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Illinois Becomes First State To Ban Microbeads After Quinn Signs Bill

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 9, 2014 1:45PM

2014_6_9_microbeads.jpg Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation into law Sunday banning the manufacture and use of personal care products containing synthetic microbeads.

Quinn said Senate Bill 2727 “will help ensure clean waters across Illinois and set an example for our nation to follow. 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."

These tiny plastic particles have been the focus of environmentalists who argue they pose long-term pollution problems because of their small size, particularly in the Great Lakes which contain 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. Microbeads are so small they can pass through water filtration systems and be mistaken as food by fish in the Great Lakes.

The ability of microbeads to soak up toxins in the water has scientists and environmentalists concerned those chemicals will eventually work their way up the food chain where they’ll be ingested by other animals and even humans. Sherri Mason, an associate professor of chemistry at State University in New York, told NPR Lake Ontario contains as much as 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometer.

State Sen. Heather Steans, who sponsored the bill, said it “is a tremendous first step in protecting our precious natural resource, Lake Michigan, from plastic pollutants.” But it won’t happen immediately. The new law will ban the manufacture of microbeads by 2018 and end the sale them by the end of 2019. A bill in New York State seeking the banning of microbeads would give manufacturers until the end of 2015 to comply, if signed into law.