Thursday, March 27, 2014


Sharing a release from the Alliance for the Great Lakes
For Immediate Release                              

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Bill Banning Microbeads Critical Step in Reducing
Harmful Plastic Pollution in the Great Lakes


CHICAGO – The introduction of microbead-free waters legislation in the Illinois Legislature takes an important step forward in reducing harmful plastic pollution in the Great Lakes.

The legislation responds to a rising tide of concern among researchers and the public about the impact of microbeads­ – synthetic plastic particles used as an abrasive in personal-care products – on our waterways and wildlife. The bill, SB 2727, would prohibit the production, manufacture, distribution and sale in Illinois of any personal-care product containing plastic microbeads.

Microbeads are commonly found in hundreds of products, including facial scrubs, soaps, shampoos and toothpastes, where they are used as a synthetic alternative to natural abrasives such as ground almonds, oatmeal and pumice. The Illinois bill, introduced March 14, is similar to legislation newly introduced in New York and California. New York, a fellow Great Lakes state, in February became the first in the nation to propose legislation for microbead-free waters.

When consumers use personal-care products such as facial scrubs and toothpaste containing microbeads, the beads are rinsed down the drain and into our sewer systems. They are designed to be single-use components with no possible opportunity for reuse or recycling. Because of their small size and buoyancy, microbeads escape treatment by sewage plants and are discharged into rivers, lakes and oceans. Consumers can determine if their personal-care or beauty products contain microbeads by checking the product ingredient list for “polyethylene” or “polypropylene.”

“We applaud state Sen. Heather Steans for putting forth this bill and proactively addressing this emerging threat to the Great Lakes and all Illinois waters,” said Alliance for the Great Lakes Research Manager Olga Lyandres. “These products are unnecessary and do not belong in our Great Lakes, especially when many readily available alternatives exist.”


Once in the water, microbeads, like other plastics, can absorb persistent toxic chemicals commonly found in waters across the state and can be mistaken for food by small fish and wildlife. Scientific studies have shown the concentration of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on microbeads collected in the Great Lakes to be up to twice that measured in the oceans, and to also contain detectable levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); both chemicals are toxic environmental contaminants that persist in the environment. Studies have shown that fish and wildlife of all sizes consume plastic, raising serious concerns about the impacts of microbeads on aquatic species and on up the food chain.

“We must keep these contaminants out of Lake Michigan so they don’t end up in our drinking water or fish dinners,” said Steans.

“Our research in 2013 surveying microplastics in Lake Michigan has shown enormous concentrations of these plastic microbeads on the lake surface. These plastic beads, traced to personal-care products, resemble fish eggs and easily end up the environment. Why are we corrupting our fisheries at the base of the food chain for a vanity product where natural and market viable alternatives already exist?” said Stiv Wilson, Five Gyres Institute associate director. 

"We are very pleased with the proposed action of the Illinois Legislature to ban microbeads,” said Keith Hobbs, mayor of Thunder Bay, Ontario and chairman of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. “The Cities Initiative strongly believes that the personal-care products industry must promptly halt producing goods with microbeads so we can eliminate their entry into the Great Lakes." 

Several leading beauty-product manufacturers – Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, The Body Shop, and L’Oreal – have all made recent commitments to phase out the use of microbeads in their products.



For additional information contact:

Alliance for the Great Lakes: Olga Lyandres, (312) 445-9749;

Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative: David Ullrich, (312) 201-4516,

The 5 Gyres Institute: Stiv Wilson, (503) 913-7381,


Formed in 1970, the Alliance for the Great Lakes is the oldest Great Lakes organization in North America. Our mission is to: conserve and restore the world's largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts, ensuring a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife. More about the Alliance for the Great Lakes is online at



Susan Campbell | Communications Manager |

Alliance for the Great Lakes |

1845 N. Farwell Avenue, Suite 100 | Milwaukee, WI 53202 | 414-540-0699




1 comment:

  1. Wow great share about harmful chemicals product. Thanks for your share.
    are microbeads harmful chemicals?