Microbeads now under federal ban

KITV - January 12, 2016
Lara Yamada


On the same day the San Bernardino mass shooting captured our attention, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill to ban the use of what are called microbeads in cosmetics.

"The worst part of this stuff goes right through our sewage treatment plants and right into the ocean," said Kahi Paccaro of Sustainable Coastlines.

Weeks later, during his Hawaii vacation, Pres. Obama signed the bill into law.

"The ban the president put through is for the betterment of all of our health," said Paccaro.

National research shows exfoliating face wash could contain more than 350,000 microbeads with an estimated 2.9 trillion beads entering U.S. waterways each year. Local environmentalists showed KITV the problem filtered and exposed. Companies convincing consumers those little tiny beads equals a cleaner scrub and other warning of the real price to our environment.

"The interesting thing about microbeads is you almost don't see them at all, but the fish see it and they're the ones that are eating it and we don't even realize it," said Paccaro.

"Having this law apply in all 50 states, of course, is huge because it's going to protect human health and the environment across the country so my hats off to President Obama and Congress," said Sen. Mike Gabbard.

The Microbead-Free Waters Act bans manufacturers from using synthetic plastic microbeads starting July 1, 2017 and must stop selling those products by the following year. It goes further than bills introduced locally by also banning so-called biodegradable plastics, which researchers have found, for the most part, don't actually biodegrade.

A correction to a man-made problem finally in the works.

"In the meantime, don't buy that stuff," said Paccaro.

Sustainable Coastlines wants to give you a chance to help clean up our beaches. They've got another clean-up event next week on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Click here for more information.