California may become one of the states that ban microbeads. The State Assembly has just approved a bill to ban the use of these tiny environment threats in cosmetic products. There is great chance that the bill will pass the State Senate as well, thus becoming enforceable shortly after.
Microbeads are the small plastic balls used in product like scrubs and cleansers that facilitate the exfoliating properties of these products. The problem is that when you wash the cleanser from your face, the microbeads go down the drain with it and make their way into the environment.
These plastic spheres are extremely small, with a diameter of less than 0,03 inches usually. It is precisely because they are so minute, that they manage to make their way through the filters of the wastewater treatment plants and thus wind up in the oceans or rivers.
And if you take into account that one single tube of cleanser has 300,000 microbeads in it, according to NGO Californians Against Waste, than it is easy to understand how quite a few millions of these small balls end up into the waters every single day, 471 million microbeads a day, to be exact.
Environmentalists have looked into the matter and have calculated that up to 38 tons of plastic goes into the waters in the form of the tiny microbeads every year.
And so, Mark Murray, leader of Californians Against Waste, points out that it is imperative that serious measures be taken to resolve the matter of microbeads.
He explains that no other company would ever get away with unloading almost 40 tons of toxic waste in the waters, because they would be gravely violating the Clear Water Act.
“But these cosmetic and soap makers are doing the same thing on a daily basis with billions of plastic microbeads washed down millions of drains. Enough is enough.”, he said.
Mr. Murray drew attention to the fact that microbeads are extremely dangerous because once they get into the water, there are fish that mistake them for eggs and ingest them and therefore also ingest all the chemicals that come with them.
Furthermore, it becomes a danger to human health as well at the point where the humans eat the fish. This is how the chemicals from cosmetic products make their way from the tube of cleanser into people’s bodies, causing an immense amount of damage along their vast detour.
This is not the first microbeads bill to be issued. Last year, another bill on the matter was passed by the State Assembly and then it was eventually rejected by the State Senate by one single vote.
This year however, the bill has a series of improvements that should succeed in getting it past the State Senate and make it the law.
The alternatives to plastic microbeads are the ones made out of biodegradable materials and the natural ones. However, the choice between them will be yet another issue.
On one hand, the biodegradable ones may take quite some time to dissolve on their way up to the water, and therefore still make their way to fish. A proper biodegradable substitute has yet to be discovered.
On the other hand, the natural alternatives, such as ground coffee and walnut shells and sans, are more expensive than the chemical ones and so, the companies are not likely to chose them.
The fate of the microbeads bill in California remains to be determined by the State Senate. If approved, then California would be joining states like Illinois, New Jersey and Colorado in their fight against the tiny colored balls that cause enormous damage.
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