6 Reasons Microbeads are Harmful

6 Reasons Microbeads are Harmful

What are Microbeads?

Microbeads are small plastic particles found mainly in cosmetics and personal care products such as face wash, body wash and toothpaste. The Microbead-Free Waters Act (H.R. 1321) was recently approved and will ban the sale of products containing microbeads by July 2018. These is great news because small plastic particles are terrible for the environment and the magnitude of pollution has a significant unknown impact on human health.

1. Micorobeads Attract Toxins

  • Microplastics soak up toxins, collecting and concentrating things like pesticides, PCB’s and flame retardants.
  • A single plastic microbead can be 1 million times more toxic than the water around it.
  • Many marine animals get sick or die from ingesting these concentrated toxins.

2 . Microbeads and Microplastics Harm the Oceans and Marine Life

  • Marine life such as fish, dolphins, sea birds or turtles ingest microbeads and become ill.
  • The harmful toxins held by the plastic  travel through the food-chain polluting the ocean and endangering marine populations.
  • At the top of the food chain, we eat seafood and end up with these toxins in our diet.

3. Microbeads are Released into the Environment at an Alarming Rate

  • One tube of face wash is estimated to contain 350,000 microbeads.
  • An estimated 3 trillion microbeads pollute US waterways every year.
  • According to an Oregon State Study an estimated 800 billion microbeads are released into the environment every day.  This is enough to cover 300 tennis courts!

4. Its Almost Impossible to Remove Microplastics Once they are in the Environment

  • Most microbeads are made from polyethylene, the most popular plastic in the world.
  • Plastic is not biodegradable and lasts forever.
  • They do not dissolve in acetone or water.
  • Microbeads are too small to be caught by most sewage treatment plants.
  • Due to their small size, they are just about impossible to remove from the environment once they get there.
  • Testing of seafood reveals that toxic microbeads are indeed present in the majority of samples.

5. Microbeads are not Necessary

  • Alternatives do exist. These include things such as apricot shells and cocoa beans.
  • Companies use microbeads because they are cheaper.
  • Crest has admitted that microbeads in their toothpaste are purely for decorative purposes.

6. Dentists are Alarmed by the Effects of Microbeads in Toothpaste

  • Dentists around the country are finding small blue microbeads embedded in their patients gum line.
  • The health of your gums is extremely important. Having unhealthy gums allows food and bacteria to more easily enter your body affecting your health.

Action Steps

Microbeads pollute our local waters as well as the ocean.  These small plastic particles concentrate toxins which cause harm to marine life and ultimately humans.  Since the Microbead-Free Waters Act gives companies until January 2017 to reformulate their products, we can take action while we wait:

  1. Boycott brands that use micro-plastics
  2. Read the labels before buying your favorite products.
  3. Avoid anything with the ingredients polyethylene and polypropylene.

Sources

5Gyres.org
Crest toothpaste embeds plastic in our gums
President Obama Signs Ban on Polluting Plastic Microbeads in Beauty Products
Microbeads – Dr Mercola
Exfoliating Products Are Polluting the Oceans

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