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October 2015


The world’s oceans are facing an unprecedented plastic crisis, and your morning routine may be inadvertently adding to it.

Plastic in the ocean is hard to track and quantities are growing every day, but scientists have estimated that concentrations can be as high as 580,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer (223,880 per square mile). Plastic pollution has become so ubiquitous that over 90% of seabirds and most sea turtles have eaten plastics in their lifetimes, with numbers increasing every day. If you’re like me, you probably imagine that this plastic problem stems from the large pieces of debris we’re likely to see washed up on beaches such as plastic soda bottles, shopping bags, and lighters. But while large pieces of plastic debris are certainly an issue, this huge problem boils down to some much smaller pieces: microplastics. Microplastics are technically under 5mm in size (about half the size of a grain of rice). They can be a result of those larger pieces of plastic breaking down into smaller pieces over time, or can be the result of already small plastics entering waterway. This is where you and I come in, because we might be unwittingly contributing to the microplastic problem in local and global waterways simply by washing our faces or brushing our teeth...

Plastic?! I’ve been brushing my teeth with plastic? I immediately went home and examined the contents of my bathroom products. Face scrub, shower gel, toothpaste - almost all contained either polyethylene or polypropelyne, the two main plastics that are used for microbeads (polylactic acid, polystyrene, or polyethylene terephthalate are also used, but are less common)...



Scientific Evidence Supports a Ban on Microbeads

Growing scientific evidence indicates that synthetic plastic microbeads (hereafter, microbeads) are a threat to the environment and should be banned from all personal care products. Microbeads pollute the environment, adding to the increasing abundance of microplastic debris. Too small to be efficiently filtered by wastewater treatment processes, microbeads are found in aquatic habitats and fish. Microplastic debris, and its inherent cocktail of chemical pollutants, has been found in the stomachs of hundreds of species of wildlife. The ingestion of microplastic may cause bioaccumulation of hazardous chemicals and adverse health effects in wildlife and people.

Policy Recommendations:

1. State and federal legislation should ban synthetic plastic microbeads from all personal care products, including “over the counter drugs” and cosmetics.

2. Legislation should define “synthetic plastic microbeads” as any intentionally added synthetic plastic particle that escapes wastewater treatment processes and is not marine biodegradable, and thus is bioavailable to wildlife



Dentists call Crest toothpaste dangerous, Crest promises to phase-out Microbeads (microplastics like polyethylene or polypropelyne)



Governor Jerry Brown Signs Historic Legislation to Ban Plastic Microbeads in Personal Care Products

October 08, 2015

Legislation gives California the strongest protections in the country

SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed groundbreaking legislation to ban micro-plastic particle abrasives, commonly referred to as “microbeads,” from being used in products such as facial scrubs, soaps, and toothpaste. The legislation, AB 888, authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), would set up the strongest protections in the country against the use of these unnecessary and toxic micro-plastic beads.

“AB 888 is a comprehensive solution to the growing problem of microbead pollution. A recent study found a staggering amount of micro-plastic pollution in the San Francisco Bay but these beads have also been found in the open ocean, rivers and the Great Lakes,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “Today, California steps forward to lead the nation in environmental protection by banning this pervasive source of plastic pollution. While other states have passed similar regulations, AB 888 was carefully crafted to avoid any loopholes that would allow for use of potentially harmful substitutes. This legislation ensures that personal care products will be formulated with environmentally-safe alternatives to protect our waterways and oceans.”

Microbeads have emerged as a prevalent form of pollution in our waterways and marine environment...


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The measure was changed in the face of opposition from businesses, including Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble. Late amendments deleted references to natural exfoliants from the measure, and removed a requirement that the state Department of Toxic Substances Control evaluate alternatives to plastic microbeads.

See the most-read stories this hour >> Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, which sponsored the bill, said the purpose of the legislation -- to eliminate plastic particles from soaps, shampoos and toothpastes -- remained intact.

"We were basically saying: no plastic in these products that are washed down the drain," Murray said. "That was always the objective and that’s exactly what the governor signed today."

Bloom heralded the measure, AB 888, as the most stringent ban in the nation. Other states including Illinois have banned microbeads but have included exemptions for biodegradable plastic particles...