Lawmakers in New York and California have proposed legislation that would prohibit the use of plastic microbeads in personal care products. Found in more than 100 products, including facial scrubs, soaps and toothpaste, microbeads have garnered recent attention as a pervasive form of plastic pollution in the marine environment, with studies reportedly showing that the tiny particles  are prevalent in ocean debris piles, the Great Lakes and the Los Angeles River. Too small to be captured by most sewage and water-treatment facilities, the non-biodegradable particles flow directly into rivers and streams where they are ingested or absorbed by marine life and other mammals. Some 350,000 polyethylene or polypropylene microbeads can apparently be contained in a single product.

Proposed by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, the Microbead-Free Waters Act (A. 08744) would prohibit, effective December 31, 2015, the production, manufacture, distribution, and sale in New York of any beauty product, cosmetic or other personal care product containing plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters.

California Assembly Member Richard Bloom’s bill (A.B. 1699) seeks to prohibit, after January 1, 2016, the sale of personal care products that contain micro- plastic particles. The legislation would impose civil penalties up to $2,500 per day for each violation. See Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2014; PremierBeau-, February 16, 2014.