Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tiny Pieces, Big Problem

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Exfoliating microbeads. Invigorating microbeads. Deep cleaning microbeads.

Sound familiar? Cleansing products have included these for years in an attempt to lure new consumers. I admit, I've used body and face washes featuring these tiny particles.

While they may be good for cleaning, they're not so good for water, and for aquatic life in particular. The problem is the microbeads can be too darn small to be effectively removed by wastewater treatment processes, and they end up in our waterways and become food for unsuspecting fish.

To further compound the bad news, these tiny pieces of plastic, or microplastics, can absorb and even concentrate pollutants. So when they're ingested by a hungry fish looking for lunch, they have the potential to make it up the food chain to our dinner plates. Some states have passed or are looking to pass bans on microbeads, and many manufacturers of these products are looking to phase them out over the next few years.

What do you think? Have you used these products? How much do you think a ban will help?

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