A recent study found that about 8 trillion microbeads enter the aquatic environments of the United States every single day. Most of the face wash and toothpaste products from the market are overloaded with microbeads that gives them their scrubbing properties.
The new study was published in Environmental Science and Technology. Its authors suggest that a complete ban of products containing microbeads is necessary.
Microbeads are known to be some of the most harmful pollutants. The small plastic beads from toothpaste products may be seemingly inoffensive as they leak down the sink, but they in fact never go away. In reality, their damaging effects could only be contained once people stop buying products that come loaded with microbeads.
At the first glance, a small plastic bead appears to be trivial. But it becomes easier to comprehend the magnitude of the issue if we imagine that one football stadium worth of microbeads enter the US waters every single day. These 8 trillion plastic beads could pose a great threat to wildlife. Even more, this amount only represents 1% of the total of beads that are dumped daily, it’s just that “only” 8 trillion of them enter the aquatic habitats. The rest of 800 trillion beads might as well end up in plants, polluting wildlife even further.
These microbeads come in many different forms, but the largest part of them is contained in toothpaste products, where they are nearly invisible to the naked eye. Consumers do not know the dangers the beads can cause an still buy them, some are not even aware that the products they are using contain large amounts of plastic.
Stephanie Green, professor at the Oregon State University, said that we are currently in a plastic crisis, and that most of the population is not even aware of it. Green claims that once the products have been bought, it is nearly impossible to get rid of them without polluting. She adds that the current bands from certain states are not sufficient. Most of the regulations from individual states tend to carry gaps that allow many types of biodegradable plastics to enter the aquatic habitats. Green said that they only degrade as much as they can before settling in rivers and oceans.
Researchers recommend people to try and prevent any more of these microbeads to go down the sink. It is possible to filter them through a common coffee filter then throw them in the trash. She adds that it is not the most ideal solution, but it gets its job done and everybody can do it.
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