WASHINGTON — Dec. 7, 2015 — The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to ban the use of plastic microbeads in rinse-off cosmetic products, according to a press release.

The bipartisan legislation, co-sponsored by Reps. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) and Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey), would prohibit the manufacture of personal care products containing microbeads by July 1, 2017 and ban the delivery of these products by July 1, 2018, noted the release.

Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic that are used as exfoliants in face wash, soap, toothpaste and other products, stated the release. After being washed down the drain, they can pass through wastewater treatment systems and end up in streams, rivers and larger bodies of water.

“Most people who buy personal care products that contain microbeads are unaware that these tiny bits of plastic seep into waterways, threatening the environment and ultimately our health. Our bill is a bipartisan and commonsense solution,” said Pallone in the release. “It is our responsibility to implement a nationwide ban on plastic microbeads, and spur a transition to non-synthetic alternatives. House passage is an important step towards putting a stop to this unnecessary plastic pollution, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to see this much-needed legislation become law.”

“These microbeads are tiny plastic, but big time pollution,” Upton added in another release. “As someone who grew up on Lake Michigan and represents a large chunk of Michigan coastline, I understand firsthand how important it is to maintain the beauty and integrity of our Great Lakes. They may be smaller than a pinhead, but once they’ve been flushed down the drain is where the problem starts.”

The American Chemistry Council also welcomed the passage of the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, describing the legislation as “an important step to ensure we have one sensible, national standard for phasing out the use of solid plastic microbeads in personal care products across America.”

You can find the entire release here.

Read more about microbeads as a contaminant.