The federal government has announced it intends to ban the microbeads used in personal care products, after a scientific review found that the tiny particles pose a potential risk to the environment.

Minister of Labour and Status of Women Kellie Leitch made the announcement by the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto on Thursday.

Leitch said the decision was made after Environment Canada completed a review of more than 130 scientific papers and consulted experts in various fields.

“We don’t know the long-term impacts of the continuous release and accumulation in the environment,” Leitch said of microbeads.

Microbeads are plastic particles used in a range of personal care products, including skin care lotions, shampoos, and toothpaste brands.

They are so small, microbeads can't be filtered out by water-treatment systems. They end up in lakes and rivers where fish often confuse them with food.

According to Leitch, the next step toward the ban will be to add microbeads to the Canada’s List of Toxic Substances, which will allow the government to regulate microbeads under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

The government intends to then develop regulations to prohibit the manufacture, import and sale of microbead-containing care products “used to exfoliate or cleanse,” Leitch said.

Meanwhile, the minister commended Loblaws for its decision to eliminate microbeads from its in-house brands by the end of 2018.

The grocery giant said in June that it would ban microbeads, along with triclosan and phthalates, two substances that some scientists believe pose a threat to human health.

Johnson & Johnson, which offers microbead-containing face wash, has also committed to phasing out microbeads by the end of 2017

With files from The Canadian Press