California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill on Thursday, Oct. 8, banning the use of personal care products containing microbeads, which contains toxic abrasives that can harm fish and wildlife.

The legislation authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom will phase out soaps, facial scrubs, toothpaste and other toiletries containing microbeads starting Jan. 1, 2020. Dubbed as AB888, this law aims to significantly inhibit the utilization of non-biodegradable plastic beads, which may pose threats to the environment.

In the past, such laws were drafted and approved by the Assembly but were not able to obtain approval from the Senate. Aside from that, the bans were condemned by companies manufacturing personal care products. According to the said firms, some parts of the bill were highly prohibitive and did not enable them to devise environment-friendly alternative products.

This year, however, late amendments were made, urging companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble to abandon their opposition. In particular, the changes made erased references to natural exfoliants and deleted a need for evaluation of alternatives from the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Bloom said that the AB888 was intricately written in such a way that it does not contain loopholes that would permit the use of possibly hazardous agents. He added that through this bill, personal care products are guaranteed to be made from environment-friendly alternatives to safeguard oceans and other water bodies.

Bloom, who is from D-Santa Monica, also called the new law as a step toward maintaining the integrity of the environment.

"Today, California steps forward to lead the nation in environmental protection by banning this pervasive source of plastic pollution," Bloom said in a statement.

The microbeads contained in personal care products are so tiny, that it can pass through the water filtration system and escape into the oceans, intact and without signs of massive disintegration.

Given that microbeads can end up in to the marine world, it is of high possibility that fish and other aquatic animals may ingest it. In fact, Sue Vang from Californians Against Waste, has told Al Jazeera earlier in 2015 that swordfish and tuna have been found to have microbeads in their stomachs.

Some companies are said to be in the process of replacing the microplastics with natural agents like grounded fruit pits.

Other states, which have already passed a microbead-restriction law include Illinois, Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, Maryland and Indiana.

Photo: Neon Tommy | Flickr

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