Tiny “microbeads” in beauty products seemed great, until someone tried to clean them up.
Sometimes product innovation turns out beautifully. Other times, it gets messy and requires a clean up. The story of plastic microbeads in personal care products–the tiny spheres in many body washes and toothpastes that Illinois became the first state to ban last week–is an example of the latter.
Some time in the 1990s, more and more beauty and cosmetics companies realized that microbeads answered a market demand: Women wanted to have glowing, younger-looking skin, but natural exfoliants used in many products–like ground up apricot or walnut shells–irritated their face. Plastic spheres, on the other hand, could slough off dead skin and dirt without being too harsh that a customer wouldn’t want to use it every day. They also could give lotions a creamier, silkier texture and help fill in facial lines. More and more brands began new “gently scrubbing” cleansers, and today, microbeads are ubiquitous on drug store shelves, in hundreds of products.
But all of this innovation also gets washed down the drain, and that’s the problem. Because the spheres are too small to be removed in many wastewater treatment plants, they end up in the lakes, oceans, and other waterways. Instead of decomposing, they just float around, and toxins like pesticides and PCBs that already are in the water can cling to their surfaces. Eventually, the plastics can wind up in the stomachs of birds and even seafood that humans eat, though the extent that this is happening is not known.
The Latest on: Microbeads
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The Latest on: Microbeads
- Balbriggan students science triumphon July 5, 2019 at 4:09 pm
Their project is focused on finding an environmentally friendly and biodegradable alternative to plastic microbeads which are used in various cosmetics and personal care products. This results in them ... […]
- Tiny pieces of plastic pollute Monterey Bay — and they’re likely in SLO County waters, tooon July 5, 2019 at 9:39 am
A well-known example is microbeads, found in “rinse-off” products like shampoo and soap. While the federal 2015 Microbead-Free Waters Act curbed their use in those products, microbeads and other ... […]
- The Financial and Emotional Toll of Having Acne-Prone Skinon June 27, 2019 at 6:07 am
She started buying everything she could from the skin-care department at the pharmacy: OXY pads that were supposed to sting, astringents that dried out her skin, acne scrubs with bright blue ... […]
- Dail declares war on microbeads as bill wins cross-party supporton June 22, 2019 at 4:01 pm
The government has drawn up the toughest ban on microbeads in Europe, according to housing minister Eoghan Murphy, one which will outlaw the plastic pollutants in household cleaning products as well ... […]
- Plastic microbeads set to be banned in Ireland after new bill introduced in the Dailon June 21, 2019 at 2:58 am
IRELAND is set to become the first EU country to ban plastic microbeads under a new bill introduced in the Dail. Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy said other EU ... […]
- Ireland to be first EU country to ban plastic microbeads in cleaners, Dáil toldon June 20, 2019 at 12:59 pm
Ireland will be the first EU country to ban plastic microbeads in household and industrial cleaners under new legislation introduced in the Dáil. Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government ... […]
- Microplastics Found In Every UK River Tested By Greenpeaceon June 18, 2019 at 4:01 pm
In the first nationwide exercise of its kind, which looked in detail at 13 rivers, experts found a total of 1,271 pieces of plastic, ranging in size from straw and bottle-top fragments to tiny 1mm ... […]
- Law to ban microbeads in Ireland set to be publishedon June 11, 2019 at 12:18 pm
CABINET HAS AGREED to publish new laws that will outlaw the sale, manufacture, import and export of products containing plastic microbeads. Cabinet agreed in July last year to ban microbeads, but ... […]
- Cosmetics industry on track to phase out microbeads, committee hearson February 13, 2019 at 7:28 am
The European Cosmetics Industry has phased out up to 97% of plastic microbeads used in personal care products and is on track for a 100% reduction by 2020. That’s according to Siobhan Dean, Director ... […]
- Why microbeads are such a threat and why they’re so hard to handleon January 3, 2019 at 3:57 am
Henk Bouwman receives funding from various sources, including the Water Research Commission, Department of Science and technology, United Nations Development Programme, and the National Research ... […]
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