An environmental issue has been called for to attention as, daily, 8 trillion plastic microbeads enter bodies of water, and pose as a threat to the health of humans, animals and plants alike. And all of those are only in the United States. They’re small, nearly unseen, overlooked and surprisingly popular in care products that most of the population is not even aware of.
- Microbeads are the size of a sand grain and highly durable
- They are found in toothpaste and exfoliating products
- They are highly toxic and have been traced in the gut of wildlife
- The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 is proposed to take effect in 2018
Researchers at the College of Science at Oregon State University, along with six other institutions demonstrated the high quantity of material that passes through the filters of sewage systems and harm the environment. They claim that lawmakers need to take an aggressive approach to the issue before matters become worse.
Thus, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 has been introduced to Congress, which proposes a legislation that would ban the use of the tiny plastic microbeads often found in cosmetics, starting in 2018.
The small, sand grain sized synthetic particles are commonly used in toothpaste, face-creams, body scrubs and other products that are used to clean and exfoliate the skin. They form that gritty texture that adds an extra cleaning factor to removing stains from our teeth or help take off the dead skin from our bodies.
They are also frequently used by companies in biomedical and health science research (a bit ironically), such as microscopy techniques or fluid visualization and flow. They’re also what is currently harming our waters.
Due to their incredibly small size, even the best performing sewage plants with high-end filters cannot manage to catch them, so they travel further into rivers or streams, where they are ingested by wildlife. Previous studies by the same team proved that they can carry many dangerous contaminants to animals with toxic effect.
According to co-author of the study, Stephanie Green, “we’re facing a plastic problem and we don’t even know it”, which can start by simply brushing our teeth or exfoliating our skin. These tiny beads of are incredibly durable, and can have a drastic impact upon the health of our environment.
It’s an increasing problem, so researchers are calling for their ban, asking cosmetic companies to resort to other synthetic means in order to maintain the quality of their product, but also to protect the health of humans, animals and plants.
Companies such as L’Oreal, Johnson and Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever, and Proctor and Gamble have already started taking preventive measure to replace the plastic microbeads sometime in the near future with safer and greener alternatives.
Image source: thinkprogress.org