(NaturalNews) Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has just signed a bill into law banning the manufacture and sale of microbeads. These plastic particles, about the size of fish eggs, are used in commercial exfoliating soaps.
Illinois officially became the first state to ban microbeads in cosmetics products, setting a new standard for cleaner body care products and environment. The law prohibits the manufacture of microbead products by the end of 2018, ultimately phasing out sales by the end of 2019.
"Banning microbeads will help ensure clean waters across Illinois and set an example for our nation to follow," Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, 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."
Similar bans are now being considered in New York and California.
Microbeads are consumed by fish, passing plastic bits into humans
The new Illinois law is backed by environmental experts who have measured considerable amounts of these plastic microbeads in waterways. These synthetic beads are consumed by fish, which destroys the physiology of aquatic life. The fish, in turn, pass the plastic to humans. These synthetic beads may cause inflammation and digestive issues.
Sherri Mason, an associate professor of chemistry at the State University of New York, Fredonia, said, "They are about the same size as fish eggs, which means that, essentially, they look like food. To any organism that lives in the water, they are food. So our concern is that, essentially, they are making their way into the food web."
Microbead levels in Lake Ontario average 1.1 million per square kilometer
Mason was part of research team that spent two years collecting data on the amount of plastic microbeads in lakes. At half-hour intervals, the researchers sailed out with fine mesh nets that collected anything larger than one-third of a millimeter.
For Lake Michigan, which touches Chicago, IL, Mason measured roughly 17,000 bits of microbeads per square kilometer. The highest concentration of plastic bits was in Lake Ontario, which averaged 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometer.
Consumers are now being warned to look for polyethylene or polypropylene on product labels of exfoliating body care products. These two ingredients signify that the exfoliates are made out of plastic.
Companies begin seeking out natural exfoliates for their products
Karin Ross, a spokeswoman for the Personal Care Products Council, says that L'Oreal, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble are already on board with the new law, agreeing to phase out microbeads from personal care products. The companies are now reverting back to nature, testing out alternatives like apricot seeds, cocoa and pumice sand.
Natural soap companies are already ahead of the game, using wholesome ingredients like oatmeal, walnut hull, sea salt, honey and others. Exfoliates help remove dead skin, giving soap both scrubbing power and cleansing strength.
About the author: Lance Johnson is a passionate researcher, learner, writer, and healer. Lance and his wife invite you to check out their line of clean and conscious body care products at www.allnaturalfreespirit.com.