Microbead Ban Set to Go Into Effect

Connecticut is on track to become the latest state to either ban or put new limits on the sale and manufacture of plastic microbeads found in many cosmetic products.

The beads, tiny pieces of plastic commonly found in hand and face soaps, give off the feeling of a mineral soap. However, studies in other states have shown the plastic ends up in the water supply.

Under the bill the Connecticut General Assembly has signed, products with microbeads must be completely phased out of the state by 2019.

Gov. Dannel Malloy hasn't signed the bill, but sources in environmental circles said they expect him to authorize the measure.

"What it does is it allows the industry to remove the products," said Robert LaFrance with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. "It might be on inventory shelves. There’s utility in the products that they’re selling, so they want to get those out and phase them out over time."

The proposed measure also provides for a study of the microbeads and a possible biodegradable replacement that manufacturers have suggested.

"The industry wanted to do the development of a biodegradable microbead but we didn’t really know what that meant, so what we asked, and what they ended up accommodating, was to have the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering do a study to find out what those biodegradable microbeads might be and actually have them give us that so we can study them before we authorize them here in Connecticut," LaFrance said.

Middletown resident Elaine Fournier said she's been using products that contain microbeads for years, saying that she loves both the feeling and the low price tag.

Now that she's followed the news on the environmental issues surrounding them, however, Fournier said she supports the ban.

"We have enough problems in our environment right now. I think the phase out is good, however I think it should be phased out sooner," she said.

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