Update: The Canadian government has announced it intends to ban microbeads used in personal care products, after a scientific review found that the tiny particles pose a potential risk to the environment. (ctvnews.ca)
Johnson & Johnson, Unilever (Dove), and Procter & Gamble have pledged to change…eventually. Others haven’t.
“Tiny plastic beads used in hundreds of toiletries like facial scrubs and toothpastes are slipping through water treatment plants and turning up by the tens of millions in the Great Lakes.”
Via the New York Times, which does ever-increasingly-rare original reporting worth paying for:
“…Tiny plastic beads used in hundreds of toiletries like facial scrubs and toothpastes are slipping through water treatment plants and turning up by the tens of millions in the Great Lakes. There, fish and other aquatic life eat them along with the pollutants they carry — which scientists fear could be working their way back up the food chain to humans.
Scientists have worried about plastic debris in the oceans for decades, but focused on enormous accumulations of floating junk. More recently, the question of smaller bits has gained attention, because plastics degrade so slowly and become coated with poisons in the water like the cancer-causing chemicals known as PCBs.
“Unfortunately, they look like fish food…”
“…Johnson & Johnson, along with others, has questioned whether the spheres are actually getting through wastewater treatment plants. So Sherri A. Mason and colleagues took samples that suggested concentrations of as much as 1.1 million bits of microplastics per square mile in some parts of the lakes’ surfaces, with beads making up more than 60 percent of the samples…She was quick to point out that the sewage treatment plant is not designed to capture the tiny beads, which vary in size but are about as big as a period on a newspaper page.”
Eco bodycare products use natural alternatives, the article goes on to say. And there’s no way to remove the life-destroying, chemical-coated beads without killing the ecosystem, entirely.