Bill to Ban Micro Beads Moving Along in Springfield
By Jim Meadows
Illinois could become the first state to ban plastic micro beads from body cleansers and toothpastes, but that ban would take effect later than proposals elsewhere.
Micro beads can be half a millimeter or less in size. While considered safe for humans, they have turned up in lakes, where they can soak up toxic chemicals and be eaten by fish that mistake them for food.
A bill in Springfield would end micro bead manufacture in Illinois by the end of 2017 --- and their sale by the end of 2018. That is later than micro bead bans proposed in New York and California.
Jen Walling of the Illinois Environmental Council said the dates are a result of bargaining between groups like hers that want a mandatory ban --- and industry groups that want a little more time to replace micro beads with something else..
"We both got something that we wanted that’s ultimately going to be better for the environment," Walling said. "And so I think with that piece of compromise, we’re getting a lot of support from legislators that care about the environment and also legislators that are interested in business issues."
The Illinois micro bead ban passed the Illinois Senate unanimously this month, and House chief co-sponsor Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) is optimistic about its chances in her chamber.
Recent studies have found micro beads in some of the Great Lakes. Walling said testing to see if micro beads are in Lake Michigan will be conducted this year.
The Personal Care Products Council, an industry group that supports the Illinois bill, said it does not believe micro beads are a “significant contributor” to pollution, but that the industry is making plans to eliminate them, and return to natural exfoliates such as oatmeal and apricot seeds.