Legislation prohibiting the sale of personal care products containing plastic microbeads has been signed into law by President Barack Obama.
Obama signed the bill — the Microbead-Free Waters Act — on Monday. The measure, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, was approved by the House of Representatives on Dec. 7. The U.S. Senate advanced the legislation on Dec. 18.
Gillibrand, D-N.Y., lauded Obama for signing the microbead ban.
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"This new law gives us a powerful new tool in our efforts to clean up New York's waterways," she said. "These tiny pieces of plastic have the potential to cause serious ecological damage, hurt our fishing and tourism industries and they have already polluted our drinking water supply.
"By removing products containing plastic microbeads from the marketplace, we can now begin to focus on cleaning up the mess they caused."
Plastic microbeads have been used in several personal care products, including body wash and toothpaste. But the particles are so small that they get washed down the drain and end up in waterways.
A study released by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office found microbeads were present in 25 of 34 participating wastewater treatment plants.
The federal action comes after 10 states prohibited the sale of products containing plastic microbeads. New York isn't on the list, but a handful of counties throughout the state have passed their own bans.