Is it worth putting our marine life in harm’s way? Most people aren’t even aware that the facial scrubs and even toothpaste they use have what is called microbeads in them.
These tiny plastic microbeads are ending up in our water systems.
In 2012, a California-based environmental group called the 5 Gyres Institute found high numbers of plastic microbeads in samples from Lake Erie, with some cases numbering more than 450,000 per square kilometre. When they analysed facial cleansers, they estimated that a single tube of product can contain over 300,000 of these beads.
Plastic microbeads pile up into problems for the Great Lakes:
Because they are so incredibly small, waste water treatment plants are not able to filter them out, so they end up being washed directly into our fresh water systems, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Once in the waterways, microbeads can carry toxic chemicals and pathogenic organisms that may eventually be consumed by humans after eating seafoods.
Now in Oregon, they are considering a bill to ban these tiny plastic beads, said environmentalists and lawmakers. There are a few other states that are also considering banning them, Washington and California being among them. Illinois was the first state to ban them last year.
“It’s really about the environment, and they’re non-biodegradable,” said Democratic state Representative Carla Piluso, who is the Oregon bill’s main sponsor. Lawmakers will hold a public hearing on the bill in Salem.
“Those toxins can transfer from the plastic and concentrate up the food chain,” said Anna Cummins, executive director of 5 Gyres. “By extension, the concern is both for the health of our marine ecosystem and our marine wildlife, but also to humans that are at the top of the food chain and consume seafood,” said Reuters on their website.
The Personal Care Products Council, which is a trade association representing the cosmetics and personal care products industry, supports the bill. The bill seeks to ban the manufacture and sale of microbeads in personal care products.
The micro-bead dilemma:
“The industry shares a common interest with other stakeholders in protecting the environment, and the industry takes questions regarding the presence of microbeads in our waterways very seriously,” Karin Ross, the director of government affairs for the council, said in a statement.
It’s great to see both government and industry working together to protect the environment.