Ban Microbeads to Reduce Plastic Pollution

washing hands personal care products microbeads

Target: New York State Senator Thomas O’Mara

Goal: Stop microbeads from polluting waterways and marine life.

Plastic pollution is a serious problem and microbeads are a part of that problem, particularly in our waters. New York was close to banning microbeads but has failed to do so, allowing plastic pollution in the Great Lakes and the Niagara River.

Microbeads are tiny particles of plastic that are added to facial scrubs, shampoos, and toothpaste as an abrasive. They are also added to products to be decorative, however their effects on state waterways and on marine life are far from attractive.

Thousands of products worldwide that contain microbeads. When you use them in your bathroom they go straight down the drain and into the sewer system. In many places they then go to wastewater management plants that were not designed to filter out tiny pieces of plastic. Some particles will eventually end up in the ocean. Others may remain in local lakes, streams and rivers across a region, absorbing chemicals already in the water. If ingested microbeads can rupture an animal’s organs.

From there it’s a short trip from the polluted sea onto your dinner plate where microbeads can harm you. If ingested by humans microbeads can leech chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) that disrupts human hormones.

The New York senate failed to pass a bill banning the distribution and sale of personal cosmetic products with microbeads less than five millimeters in size, even though it recently passed in the State Assembly with little opposition. At the last minute, Senator Thomas O’Mara another introduced bill to the senate with wording that would effectively nullify the ban.

Demand that Senator O’Mara stop obstructing progress on this important issue, and that a strong ban on microbeads be passed that protects us all.


Dear Senator O’Mara,

I have learned that although the New York State Assembly recently passed a bill with overwhelming support banning the distribution and sale of personal cosmetic products with microbeads less than 5 millimeters in size, the New York Senate has not.

You recently introduced a bill to the state senate that fell short of the ban the State Assembly passed. I believe the State Assembly’s bill was the kind of strong bill New York and the U.S. needs. Synthetic plastic microbeads do not need to be regulated. They need to be banned.

Plastic microbeads enter our rivers, streams, and lakes. They can be ingested by sea animals, causing organ failure and tainting our food supply. They can absorb pesticides and leech hormone disrupting chemicals causing serious health problems for humans.

All of this pollution takes place while fully biodegradable options are already on the market and have proven to be successful for personal care product manufacturers. Manufacturers can use sand, cocoa beans, salt, ground nut husks, and apricot husks instead of plastic.

I urge you to define environmentally biodegradable substances as substances that will break down before entering our waterways. I am calling on you to stipulate that only those substances be permitted our personal care products and to sponsor a strong ban on microbeads that protects us all, now.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Lars Klintwall Malmqvist

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One Comment

  1. Ruth Rogers Ruth Rogers says:

    Yes please, Signed!

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