SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) – A Santa Monica state lawmaker has introduced legislation that would ban the sale of personal care products that contain micro-plastic particle abrasives - commonly known as "microbeads" - that could pose a "pervasive" environmental threat.
Last Thursday, Democratic Assemblyman Richard Bloom introduced Assembly Bill 1699, which would prohibit businesses from selling or offering for promotional purposes any cleaning product, personal care product, or both containing microbeads, which Bloom says have been detected in ocean debris piles, the Great Lakes, and recently, the Los Angeles River.
Since microbeads - which are too small to be captured by all sewage and water treatment facilities - are not biodegradable and absorb various toxins such as DDT, flame retardants, and other industrial chemicals and are ingested or absorbed by a variety of marine life and other mammals, some researchers in the scientific community also worry about the impacts on the fish, crabs, and shellfish that humans eat, according to Bloom.
"Microbeads are a significant part of the debris accumulating in the Pacific Ocean and are also found at alarming levels in our local waterways," said Bloom. "We have no choice but to eliminate this pollution at the source. Waiting will only compound the problem and the price of cleaning up."
A single product can contain as much as 350,000 polyethylene or polypropylene microbeads, according to Dr. Marcus Eriksen, co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute, which tracks plastic pollution throughout the world's oceans.
AB 1699 calls for safer and biodegradable alternatives to microbeads, including walnut husks, pecan shells, apricot shells, and cocoa beans.
Big-name brands like Johnson and Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive are set to phase out the use of microbeads by 2017, according to reports.
New York state is seeking to become the first in the U.S. to ban the tiny plastic beads after they were found accumulating at "alarmingly high levels" in New York waterways.
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