Thursday, January 7, 2016

Banned Beads

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Back in July 2014, I blogged about the issue of microbeads in waterways. 

A year and a a half later, those tiny beads are on their way to becoming illegal, thanks to a bill passed on December 28.

Microbeads are found in various personal care products.
Image from Alliance for the Great Lakes
Microbeads are any solid plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in size and used for the purpose of exfoliating and cleansing. They're currently found in everything from toothpastes, face cleansers, and body washes. Unsuspecting consumers used these products and sent the tiny beads, which do not dissolve and are not typically removed by wastewater treatment, down the drains where they end up in waterways where they were mistaken for food by fish.

A September 2015 study in Environmental Science and Technology noted that more than 8 trillion of these microbeads entered aquatic habitats every day, which is enough to cover the surface of 300 tennis courts each day.

But not for long. The bill bans using microbeads in the manufacturing of products starting July 1, 2017.

While microbeads are primarily a surface water issue and affect aquatic habitat, this is a victory for water supplies as a whole. Fewer foreign objects in any type of water is always a good thing. And it's all one water.

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