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Obama signs law banning environmentally-damaging microbeads

President Obama has recently signed a new law that will ban the selling of environmentally-damaging microbeads in soaps and toothpastes by July of 2017.

Microbeads, or solid plastic particles that are less than 5 mm, have been widely used as an exfoliate in skincare products, cosmetics and toothpaste.

Environmental researchers have found that microbeads permanently settle on lake floors, rivers and oceans after being washed down drains and passing through filter in water treatment centers.

"The beads themselves are not considered toxic, but once they and other microplastic debris are in the water, they attract harmful chemicals like PCBs, which adhere to their surface and become concentrated there," as stated in a New York Times article.

The plastic microbeads impact the aquatic ecosystems and have been found in marine life.

"These plastic bits have been found in organisms ranging in size from small invertebrates to large mammals and are known to concentrate persistent toxic chemicals already present in sea water," Janna Selier, database manager for the Plastic Soup Foundation, said.

The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 sailed through Congress this month due the little oppositions from the cosmetics industry.

States such as Illinois, Maine and Colorado have already passed bans on products with microbeads. Companies like Johnson & Johnson have already started phasing out the harmful microbeads in their products.

Microbeads are a small part of the more than eight million metric tons of plastic that get into the world's oceans each year.