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Santa Monica Area Lawmaker Seeks Ban on Cosmetic Microbeads

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Lookout Staff

May 27, 2015 -- They’re found in virtually hundreds of products -- from daily skin scrubs to body washes to acne treatments -- but a bill by a state assemblyman from Santa Monica would ban the use of plastic exfoliating beads from all cosmetics.

AB888 by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, is the second legislative attempt to prohibit the sale of products containing the tiny “microbeads” that make their way into waterways and are eaten by animals. A similar bill last year stalled after industry officials raised objections.

But last week, Bloom’s bill passed the Assembly. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

If approved, the bill would prohibit the sale of personal care products containing “plastic microbeads that are used to exfoliate or cleanse in a rinse-off product,” according to the proposal’s language.

It would create penalties as high as $2,500 a day per violation. Products containing less than 1 part per million by weight of plastic microbeads would be exempt, according to the bill.

Illinois has a similar ban, but unlike that state, the California proposal wouldn't make an exception for beads made with biodegradable plastic, according to published reports.

Supporters of AB888 say biodegradable beads still pose environmental dangers.

According to the bill “plastic does not biodegrade into elements or compounds commonly found in nature like other organic materials, but instead, upon exposure to the elements, photo-degrades into smaller pieces of plastic causing land and water pollution that is virtually impossible to remediate.”

Chemicals associated with plastic microbeads have been linked to cancer in fish, the bill said.

“Fish that humans consume have been found to ingest microplastics, which are then ingested by the humans who consume these fish,’ said the bill.

Some manufacturers have already started replacing the plastic microbeads with natural alternatives, according to published reports.

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