Illinois first state to ban microbeads; plastic particles pollute waterways, pose health risk

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Illinois has become the first state in the U.S. to ban the sale and manufacture of cosmetic products containing microbeads. 

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the legislation Sunday.

Synthetic plastic particles that appear to be identical to the microbeads in exfoliating face and body products have been found in U.S. waterways, including the Great Lakes.

A few other states, including Ohio, have introduced similar bans.

Last month, an exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation revealed how products containing microbeads could affect the environment and your health.

Related: Vast improvements, but continuing concerns for Lake Erie fish

During the summer of 2012, SUNY Fredonia scientist Sherri Mason and her students found what appears to be microbeads from cosmetic products in the Great Lakes.

Mason said microbeads travel through wastewater treatment plants and into Lake Erie. Once there, Mason said, the microbeads attract toxins like PCBs and PAHs.  Fish mistake the microbeads for food. The dangerous chemicals accumulate in their tissues so when you eat the fish you ingest the dangerous chemicals.  Those chemicals have been linked to health problems, including cancer.

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