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Bill would ban plastic microbeads in cosmetics

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The state Assembly on Friday passed a bill banning the use of plastic microbeads in soaps and cosmetics, following actions already being taken by manufacturers and other state legislatures to keep the products out of waterways.

Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble Co. and other manufacturers already are phasing out the exfoliating ingredients, which are considered harmful to the environment in part because they are not biodegradable.

AB1699 by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, heads to the Senate after passing on a 45-10 vote. He said the tiny exfoliating beads make their way past filters in municipal water treatment plants and are swallowed by fish.

“My bill ensures that there is a uniform mandate for the use of these harmful microbeads to level the playing field for all industry and help ... protect water for future generations,” Bloom said.

Specifically, it would prohibit the sale of such products and establish a $2,500 a day fine for each violation.

The cosmetics industry opposes the bill and won a concession to push back the timeline of the phase-out to 2019. Bloom said other manufacturers have pledged to use natural, biodegradable exfoliating ingredients such as cocoa beans and apricot shells.

“The nation's personal care products companies have a longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship and the safety of their products and are demonstrating leadership on this issue,” the Personal Care Products Council said in a statement after the bill passed.

Bloom says he is close to a compromise to amend his bill to win manufacturer support.

Similar bills are moving through the legislatures in some other states, including Illinois and New York. Environmentalists have raised concerns about the beads entering the Great Lakes and other bodies of water.

Those bills would phase out the sale of microbead products sooner than AB1699.

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