Assemblymember Richard Bloom (Dem-Santa Monica) announced Monday that his legislation to ban plastic microbeads and reduce ocean debris passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on a 6-3 vote.
The legislation, AB 1699, specifically bans the sale of personal care products that contain mirco-plastic particle abrasives, commonly referred to as “microbeads,” that are commonly found in products such as facial scrubs, soaps, and toothpaste.
Bloom said microbeads are a significant part of the debris accumulating in the Pacific Ocean and are also found at alarming levels in our local waterways.
“We have no choice but to eliminate this pollution at the source,” Bloom said.”Waiting will only compound the problem and the price of cleaning up.”
Microbeads have emerged as a pervasive form of plastic pollution in the marine environment.
Studies have shown that the tiny particles are prevalent in ocean debris piles, the Great Lakes, and recently, the Los Angeles River.
Mircobeads are not biodegradable and absorb various toxins such as DDT, PCBs (flame retardents), and other industrial chemicals and are ingested or absorbed by a variety of marine life and other mammals.
As fish ingest these particles and absorb the toxins in their flesh, many in the scientific community also worry about the impacts on the fish, crabs, and shellfish that humans eat.
While tiny, the size of microbeads is actually the biggest problem. The particles are washed down the drain and are too small to be captured by all sewage and water treatment facilities.
As a result, microbeads go directly into our rivers and streams. A single product can contain as much as 350,000 polyethylene or polypropylene microbeads.
Bloom said there are natural alternatives in use and others have pledged to move to natural substitutes in the near future.
“Therefore, there really isn’t a good argument against this law,” Bloom said.
The bill now heads to the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials for a similar hearing within the next few weeks.
Bloom’s 50th Assembly District comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacifica Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.