Could your facial scrub, soap or shampoo be polluting the environment?

The New York Attorney General's Office looks to ban microbeads from beauty, cosmetic, and personal care products.

The contents in your facial scrubs, soaps, shampoo, and toothpaste could soon change as New York State looks to ban microbeads, tiny plastic beads found in commonly used cosmetics.

The Microbead-Free Waters Act would outlaw the sale of beauty, cosmetic, and personal care products containing these tiny plastic particles to protect our waterways, aquatic and wildlife as well as our personal health.

Microbeads are found in more than 100 products, used as a replacement for ground walnut shells, sea salt, and other natural materials as a scrubbing abrasive.

Look out for "polyethylene" and "polypropylene" on the ingredients list in your beauty or personal care products. It's a tell-tale sign of microbeads.

The Attorney General's Office says this plastic pollution is disrupting New York waterways, accumulating toxic chemicals on the surface that threaten fish, animals, and public health. The microbeads last in the environment for hundreds of years.

The concern is that they don't break apart when they're used in the sink or shower; Because of their small size and buoyancy, they slip down the drain and into our sewer systems, where they escape the treatment process. The plastic particles wind up in rivers, oceans, and in the Great Lakes.

Microbeads were recently found in alarmingly high levels in Lake Erie. Research shows fish and small animals mistake these particles for food, and then these chemicals are passed onto larger birds, fish, and other animals further up the food chain.

Under the proposed law, production, manufacture, distribution and sale of any beauty product, cosmetic, or personal care product containing plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in size would be banned.

Three leading cosmetic companies - Proctor and Gamble, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive - have made commitments to phase out use of microbeads.

If the law is passed, New York would become the first state in the nation to outlaw the sale of cosmetic products containing the tiny plastic scrubbing beads.

(Information from the Associated Press used in this report)

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