Microbeads, small plastic particles found in various personal care products, can enter the environment when the products that contain them are washed down household drains. Environment Canada scientists have completed a scientific review and analysis of more than 130 scientific papers. The review shows that microbeads may pose a concern to the environment because they contribute to plastic litter in waterways and accumulate in the environment, according to a Government of Canada news release.

The Canadian government is working under the country’s Chemicals Management Plan to respond to microbead pollution. The plan, delivered by Environment Canada and Health Canada, assesses chemicals used in Canada and takes action on those found to be harmful, the news release says.

“Our government is committed to protecting the environment and standing up for Canadian families. Microbeads can have an adverse impact on the environment so I am proud that our government is taking decisive action to stop the release of this toxic substance into our waters,” said Leona Aglukkaq, minister of the Environment, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, and the Arctic Council.

Through the plan, the Government of Canada has committed to address 4300 priority chemicals by 2020 and has considered more than 2700 chemicals to date. Beginning in 2016, the 2015 budget commits to providing $491.8 million during 5 years to complete assessments of remaining chemicals under the plan, the news release says.

Environment Canada is working to develop regulations that would phase out use of microbeads in personal care products. A proposed order to add microbeads to a list of toxic substances in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999 will be published. This would provide the government with authority to regulate microbeads. Notices to industry stakeholders of intent to regulate and of information gathering will be published, the news release says.