AUGUSTA – A Maine legislator wants the state to phase out and eventually ban the sale of synthetic plastic microbeads in personal care products.

The beads are non-biodegradable plastic particles that are used as exfoliants in facial cleansers and soaps. Environmentalists say they get through sewage filters and build up in waterways, where they can harm wildlife. Illinois became the first state to ban them last year.

A bill from Democratic Rep. Joan Welsh of Rockport would ban the manufacture for sale of any personal care product that contains the microbeads by Dec. 31, 2017. The sale of personal care products and the manufacture of over-the-counter drugs containing microbeads would be banned by Dec. 31, 2018, and the sale of over-the-counter-drugs with microbeads would be banned by the end of 2019.

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