The District of Columbia (D.C.) is the latest to propose a ban on microbeads starting January 1, 2018. The proposed ban, part of D.C.’s omnibus fisheries and wildlife bill aimed at ensuring marine areas and waterways remain pollutant-free, is one of the more aggressive approaches prohibiting the supply, manufacture, or import of personal care products containing microbeads. Fines up to $37,500 may be imposed for failure to comply with the ban.
Eight states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, as well as Erie County, New York, have laws banning the manufacture of personal care products containing microbeads starting as early as January 1, 2017.
Federal legislation also was introduced earlier this year to ban microbeads from personal care products. The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 (H.R. 1321; S. 1424) would require the Food and Drug Administration to ban the sale, distribution, and likely the manufacture of personal care products that contain microbeads starting January 1, 2018. Canada has proposed adding microbeads to the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999.
Recent research conducted by a team from Oregon State University suggests that the only way of tackling the current environmental problems posed by microbeads is a total ban. Others question the need for such regulatory scrutiny on microbeads when other more pressing environmental concerns are impacting waterways and overall water quality.
Illinois was the first state to ban the use of microbeads, passing its law in June 2014. Since that time, a number of states either have passed laws or attempted to pass laws to do the same. A report from the United Nations Environmental Program suggests that plastic wastes cause $13 billion in damage every year to marine life and that microbeads are a growing concern.
It appears that this form of nanotechnology, specifically microbeads, while popular in the personal care product industry, is on its way out.