Illinois looking to phase out microbeads

May 19, 2014

Illinois is poised to be one of, if not the first, states to regulate so-called "microbeads." IPR'S Amanda Vinicky.

Microbeads are tiny, think the point of a ballpoint pen. But they're causing a big fuss. Jennifer Walling, is the director of the Illinois Environmental Council.

"We're finding them in sediments, in the Great Lakes," says Walling. "Fish assume that these are eggs, and they eat them. The plastic beads can also take in toxins from the environment, and so they're toxic in addition to being another sort of plastic pollution that's in our Great Lakes."

Environmentalists all over are trying to ban microbeads from personal care products. But Walling says so far, Illinois is having the most success in reaching an agreement with industry.

Under a measure before the Illinois House, Illinois stores would be banned starting in 2019 from selling facial washes and other products with microbeads. Toothpastes and acne-body washes containing the synthetic balls would get an extra year on the shelves.