Just before Christmas, Congress passed a law banning microbeads—those tiny pieces of plastic that act as exfoliants in face washes, toothpastes, and other personal-care products.
Researchers have found that the beads are too small to be caught by water treatment plants, so they end up in waterways. There, they act as sponges for toxins—such as pesticides, heavy metals, and phthalates—and are frequently mistaken by fish for food. Roughly 300 million tons of the plastics per year end up in US waterways.
The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which requires companies to stop using plastic microbeads by June of 2017, was introduced to the House in March. The House passed the bill in December, and the Senate passed it a week later with unanimous consent.
The law comes after several states had passed bans on the beads; in response to consumer pressure, large personal-care companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble had already announced initiatives to phase out the microbeads.
But several popular consumer products still contain the plastics, and these brands have some reworking to do before summer of 2017. Here are some big-name products that contain plastic microbeads—and some that don’t.