Illinois became the first state to ban microbeads, the tiny bits of plastic found in consumer products like skin exfoliants and soap. Microbeads are viewed as an environmental hazard that are polluting the state’s waterways.

pollution from microbeads

Illinois signed a bill into law on that will ban the sale and production of hand soaps, facial scrubs, and other personal care products containing plastic microbeads, which are viewed as an environmental hazard . The manufacturing ban goes into place at the end of 2018, and the sales ban will go into place a year later, putting the law into effect at a slow pace.


tweet governor pat quinn


“Banning microbeads will help ensure clean waters across Illinois and set an example for our nation to follow,” Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says in a statement. “Lake Michigan and the many rivers and lakes across our state are among our most important natural resources. We must do everything necessary to safeguard them.”

The law makes Illinois the first state to ban microbeads — a measure that’s also been considered in states such as  New York and California. Illinois lawmakers want other states to pass similar bans, a measure that they believe is critical to protecting bodies of water.  Most importantly, the Great Lakes and its own Lake Michigan.

It’s been known for years that the world’s oceans are flooded with masses of floating plastic, but microplastics in the Great Lakes were discovered only when scientists dragged the surface of all five lakes in 2012 and 2013 with specially designed nets and found these little specks everywhere.

These synthetic microbeads accumulate in waterways including lakes and oceans because they are small enough to make their way through water treatment facilities. Recent research has found 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometer in Lake Ontario. The problem is they are being eaten by sea creatures, which can be harmful to their health. These plastic bits soak up a variety of pollutants, and there is a concern that when fish and other animals eat these plastic bits, they may transfer these chemicals up the food chain to humans and wildlife.

Why use plastic beads anyway? The answer, in part: They are cheap, and people buy into them. There are many natural exfoliants that can be used, though, like sand, pumice, walnut shells, bits of kelp… or you could just use a wash cloth…

Seems that many people are happy about the ban…

microbead ban


[Images sourced via: Chicago tribune , Twitter,