SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The California legislature is trying to ban the use of microbeads in beauty products one year after a similar measure failed in the state senate.
The tiny beads are meant to scrub skin clean, but critics say they contaminate our ecosystem.
Studies have found treatment plants can’t filter the beads, because they’re too small, so researchers say they become contaminants instead.
Microbeads are commonly found in face washes, moisturizers and even toothpaste, advertised as non-abrasive exfoliants.
According to many years of research in Chelsea Rochman’s UC Davis lab, they’ve been found to be hazardous.
She says billions of beads are washed down drains every day, into waterways and into fish.
“Microplastics or microbeads are low hanging fruit,” she said. “If we remove them from our personal care products, we remove them from our food chain, and we potentially have less contaminants in the fish that we eat.”
She says the industry is responding. Last year, Proctor and Gamble announced it’s phasing out microbeads from toothpaste.
The state Assembly approved a bill that would ban microbeads in all products, but not until 2020.
Estheticians say some brands are introducing plant-based scrubs as alternatives, but if Assembly Bill 888 becomes law, it may also outlaw the biodegradable options. Environmentalists say there’s not enough proof that the new particles dissolve.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where it failed by one vote last year.