Microbeads are evil

29 09 2013

I wish there was an easier way to share this info, but it seems I can’t. All of this is taken from the 5 Gyres website (http://5gyres.org/how_to_get_involved/campaigns/):

Did you know that in the past decade, more and more personal care products sold in The United States and around the world contain micro-plastic particle abrasives employed as an exfoliant? We think this is one of the most egregious sources of plastic pollution because this plastic is actually designed to be washed down the drain.

WHAT ARE WE ASKING?

  • Retailers to STOP selling consumer products that contain micro-plastics and micro-beads.
  • Manufactures to STOP using micro-plastics and micro-beads in consumer products worldwide and switch to organic materials that have the same performance attributes, but do not pollute the environment.
  • Consumers to check their products for plastic content and REFUSE to purchase them.
  • Legislators to execute a ban on micro-plastics and micro-beads in consumer products.

Why We Hate Micro-Beads

Analyzing facial cleanser products, 5 Gyres estimates that a single product can contain over 300,000 of these beads! In samples taken from our expedition to The Great Lakes in 2012 we found these beads, in some cases numbering more than 600,000 per square kilometer! This is unacceptable.

The issue is that after use, micro-beads travel through the sewage system. Many municipal waste treatment plants will occasionally divert wastewater directly into local rivers during heavy rain, which puts micro-beads directly into the environment. There also exists scientific evidence that micro-plastics are escaping through sewage treatment as well. 5 Gyres is examining sewage effluent to bolster this evidence. In the case of septic tanks micro-beads will eventually escape and be introduced directly to the environment.

TALKING POINTS

1. Products like facial scrubs, soaps and toothpaste contain thousands of polyethylene and polypropylene micro-plastic particles, ranging from 50-500 microns, or ½ mm in diameter.

2. Some products can have between 1-5% micro-beads.

3. One product, Neutrogena’s “Deep Clean”, contained an estimated 360,000 micro-beads in one tube.

4. These micro-beads do not embrace the “Cradle to Cradle” philosophy at all. They are not recoverable, and are not benign in the environment. They are designed to wash down the drain and into the environment.

5. Many sewage treatment facilities do not capture synthetic, floating particles the size of micro-beads, and during rainy days some treatment facilities let sewage overflow go right into our waterways.

6. Micro-plastics are persistent organic compounds that attract other pollutants in the environment, like DDT, PCBs, flame-retardants, and other industrial chemicals.

7. Micro-plastics, including micro-beads, have been found floating in America’s waters, as evidenced by our findings in The Great Lakes during our 2012 expedition.

8. Micro-plastic particles have been found in fish, marine mammals and reptiles, and in the digestive and circulatory systems of mussels and worms.

9. Fish that humans harvest have been known to eat micro-plastic particles.

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