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California lawmakers approve ban on plastic microbeads

California lawmakers on Tuesday approved a measure banning the sale of personal care products that contain plastic microbeads starting in 2020.

The microbeads, used in shampoos, soaps, toothpaste and exfoliating beauty products, have become a major source of pollution in the nation’s waterways, and have been found in debris piles in the Los Angeles River, Pacific Ocean and the Great Lakes, said Rep. Richard Bloom, (D-Santa Monica), author of the bill.

“We cannot afford to wait any longer to end micro-plastic pollution, the cost to the environment and wildlife is much too great,’’ Bloom said.

The bill passed the Assembly on Tuesday and was approved in the Senate in early September. It now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown for his consideration.

The measure, AB 888, would exempt natural exfoliates. 

Researchers warn that the microbeads, which are not biodegradable, are ingested by fish and other wildlife, potentially ending up in the food chain. Major cosmetic companies have already pledged to phase out the use of the plastic microbeads from their products.

Six other states already have passed measures banning or restricting the use of the microbeads, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Twitter:@philwillon

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