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Breaking news -- those tiny plastic microbeads in your exfoliants are now banned in the United Kingdom, following a September 2016 promise to do so. The move restricts personal care and cosmetics manufacturers from including the beads into their products.

The U.K. is not the first country to enact this ban. In 2015, President Obama signed the plastic microbead ban into law. In 2016, Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands put microbead bans in place. New Zealand made an announcement in December 2017 that the country intends to enact a microbead ban as well.

Though microbeads are barely visible to the eye, opponents argue that they have an enormous impact on oceanic wildlife and are potentially harmful to humans as well. The material, which are widely used in products such as facial scrubs, are washed down the drain during use and end up in the oceans and lakes, where they contribute to plastic particle water pollution.

According to USA Today, scientists believe some fish can soak up the toxins released by the plastic beads, which can be passed on to people who eat those fish. The toxins can disrupt hormone levels and even cause cancer.

The U.K.'s Environment Minister Therese Coffee said in a statement, "The world's seas and oceans are some of our most valuable natural assets and I am determined we act now to tackle the plastic that devastates our precious marine life." She continued, "Microbeads are entirely unnecessary when there are so many natural alternatives available, and I am delighted that from today cosmetics manufacturers will no longer be able to add this harmful plastic to their rinse-off products."

The problem of plastic pollution in the oceans became a big issue a few years back when 2014 research revealed there are over five trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean weighing nearly 269,000 tons, according to a report by The Guardian.

The hope is the UK's ban, and the promised ban from New Zealand will help eliminate the amount of plastic that ends up in the water. Hopefully, other nations take action against these plastic beads, too.

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