House lawmakers voted Monday to ban plastic microbeads from bath products such as soaps and body washes.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) earlier this year in an effort to protect the nation's lakes and streams from getting clogged with the little pieces of plastic, passed by voice vote.
Because the beads, which are often used to exfoliate the skin, are less than five millimeters in size, they escape water filtration systems and end up in bodies of water where they are mistaken as food by fish and wildlife.
"We must put a stop to this unnecessary and avoidable pollution," said Pallone, the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The bill would pre-empt states from issuing their own their own laws to regulate microbeads. Last month, Pallone said the provision was added because the federal law would phase out products faster than any state law now in place.
The legislation applies to any non-prescription rinse-off cosmetics, including toothpaste.
A companion bill has also been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who are concerned about protecting the nation’s Great Lakes.
A report earlier this year by the State University of New York in Fredonia found anywhere from 1,500 to 1.1 million microbeads per square mile in the world's largest source of freshwater.