Starting July 1, 2017, manufacturers will no longer be allowed to include plastic microbeads in personal care and cosmetic products.
The House and Senate passed legislation establishing the ban earlier this month, and President Barack Obama signed the final bill yesterday. Previously, several states banned microbeads and major retail chains such as Wegmans announced plans to stop selling products containing them. Environmental groups consider the legislation a major win.
The plastic beads are so tiny that waste water treatment plants aren't able to filter them out of treated water. And once the beads are in aquatic environments, some marine organisms mistake them for food. The plastic beads tend to carry or absorb toxic chemicals that persist in the waterways, and ultimately they carry those chemicals into the bodies of fish and birds.
Significant levels of microbeads have been found in all of the Great Lakes, with Lake Ontario having the highest recorded concentrations.