Thunder Bay

Microbeads should be banned, Thunder Bay mayor says

Canada needs legislation to ban the use of microplastics in household products, according to Thunder Bay's mayor.

Tiny plastic bits found in cosmetics 'huge issue' in Great Lakes, says Keith Hobbs

Researchers at McGill University found that the plastic microbeads sink to the bottom of lakes and rivers and stay there. (CBC)

Canada needs to ban the use of microplastics in household products to protect waterways, according to Thunder Bay's mayor.

Keith Hobbs says it's an issue that routinely comes up for discussion among mayors of communities near the Great Lakes. Thunder Bay is located on the Ontario side of Lake Superior.

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs says the proposed event centre is about building a city. (Jeff Walters/CBC)
Minnesota State Senator John Marty said if other jurisdictions ban the microbeads, manufacturers will stop using them. (Minnesota Senate)

"We've had this on our radar for a few years now and ... we do discuss it at length just about every meeting we have and microbeads, microplastics are a huge issue in the Great Lakes," he said.

The microbeads are found in many body washes, facial scrubs and some toothpastes.

Hobbs said Great Lakes-area mayors have been successful in lobbying at least two companies that will phase out the use of microbeads.

Researchers say tiny beads soak up toxins, while environmentalists fear they're being eaten by fish and entering the food chain.

Several American states are working to ban the manufacture and sale of products containing the beads.

In Minnesota, it's about to become law. 

State senator John Marty said if other jurisdictions do the same, manufacturers will stop using them.

"They don't want to sell two different formulations of their product, so we get a handful of states like this and we'll very quickly find the industry just entirely moving away from it," he said.

"For environmental and health reasons, we think it's time to stop this before it spreads further."

Ontario studying microbeads

The Ontario government said it is studying the prevalence and effects of microbeads.

But Hobbs said the government "has to move quicker on it."

"It is a big concern, and it's nice to see that some states are legislating it," he said.

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