Illinois Becomes First State To Ban Plastic Microbeads In Move To Protect Lake Michigan Ecosystems

Illinois has a message for plastic microbeads found in popular beauty products like facial scrubs and soaps: Get out.

On Sunday, the state became the first in the country to ban the synthetic beads from personal care products that are manufactured or sold in Illinois. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law on Sunday, in large part out of concern for the health of Lake Michigan.

Microbeads are so tiny that they slip through most wastewater treatment systems when they’re washed down the drain, and they end up in waterways. Because the beads are about the size of fish eggs, aquatic organisms gobble them up, passing the plastic chemicals up the food chain, NPR reported in May. Researchers who collected water samples in Lake Michigan last summer found, on average, 17,000 bits of tiny plastic items per square kilometer.

Illinois’ Senate Bill 2727 requires the microbeads be removed from in-state manufacturing by the end of 2018 and bans the sale of bead-carrying items by the end of 2019.

“Banning microbeads will help ensure clean waters across Illinois and set an example for our nation to follow,” Quinn said in a statement. “Lake Michigan and the many rivers and lakes across our state are among our most important natural resources. We must do everything necessary to safeguard them.”

Four other states are considering bills to ban microbeads, and at least one, New York, would impose an earlier deadline of 2016, Chicago Tribune reported.

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