Do you know what microbeads are? Well, not long ago I didn’t know the answer to that question. Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic, five millimeters small or smaller. You can find microbeads commonly in various skin care products, soap, and tooth paste. Microbeads are used as an exfoliant in personal care products, but their effectiveness is debatable. However, they are having a dangerous and devastating effect on the environment. "Marine plastic pollution is a global problem and microplastics can have negative effects on the health of marine organisms," said Dr. Mia Hoogenboom, lead researcher at the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. There are a few different environmental issues that microbeads are causing.
Microbeads are washed down the drain and are so small that they aren’t filtered properly, so, the microbeads end up in bodies of water. Microbeads are not biodegradable and are accumulating in the ocean rapidly which isn’t good for ocean life. Another issues is that coral is not capable of telling food from pieces of garbage. Research shows that coral has been consuming a lot of microbeads which clog their digestive system and prevent them from digesting real food. This could cause the coral to starve. Coral reefs are very important. Coral reefs provide shelter and protection for many different species of fish. Coral reefs also play a part in controlling how much carbon dioxide is in the ocean. Coral reefs provide a barrier between the sea and the shore. This is why coral reefs are important for the environment.
One of the more alarming issues caused by microbeads is that sea creatures cannot discern microbeads from food. Sea creatures often mistakenly eat microbeads. Some sea creatures can successfully digest the microbeads, but others cannot. Microbeads can also contain toxic chemicals that have been added to the plastic. This is all very dangerous for the sea creatures, but it’s also dangerous for humans. Humans eat seafood and it’s been proven that we are indirectly ingesting microbeads this way. I find this alarming and scary. Our bodies are not meant to digest plastic and some of the chemicals applied to the microbeads has been linked to causing cancer. Microbeads are having a negative impact on the environment and possibly on our health. That’s why I believe microbeads should be banned in every state. In several states microbeads have been banned. Recently, in New York the Microbead Free Waters Act was passed. The Microbead Free Waters Act prohibits any personal care products which contain microbeads. “By passing the Microbead-Free Waters Act, the Assembly has taken an important step toward protecting and restoring New York’s waterways, from the Great Lakes to the Hudson River to Long Island Sound,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “I am grateful to Speaker Silver and Assemblyman Sweeney for their partnership in the effort to stop the flow of plastic pollution from ill-designed beauty products into our vital waters where it jeopardizes wildlife and public health.”
Many beauty companies have promised to stop selling and distributing products that contain microbeads. I think these are great steps forward. However, I won’t be pleased until microbeads are no longer used at all. If you would like to learn more about microbeads, their effect on the enviornment, and the battle to ban them, click on the following link: http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/. What do you think can be used as an environmentally friendly alternative to microbeads in personal care products? Tell me in the comments.