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Microbead soap to be banned worldwide in effort to save marine life


Microbeads

(NaturalNews) Tiny little microbeads found in various cosmetic products used to exfoliate skin are currently being phased out of the United States due to their adverse effects on the environment. Last year, the U.S. passed a law banning the ingredients, ruling that their use must be completely terminated by July 1, 2017.

However, some experts say that the law doesn't go far enough. For example, the British Parliament is now calling for a worldwide ban on microbeads due to the severe and often deadly dangers they pose to wildlife.

"Trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world's oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain," committee chair Mary Creagh said in an interview with the BBC. "A single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean."

Wastewater treatment plants incapable of filtering out plastic litter harmful to wildlife

Similar to many other harmful substances, microbeads are not filtered out by wastewater treatment plants because of antiquated and often totally inadequate infrastructure. As a result, microbeads eventually end up in our waterways, causing trouble for marine life.

While harmful on their own, the microbeads can become even more threatening to animals because they often absorb chemicals and bacteria as they move through piping and the environment.

Fish, turtles and other aquatic life have been known to eat the tiny pieces of plastic, mistaking them for food. As a result, they become lodged in their stomachs and intestines, sometimes causing fatal damage to the animals.

Researchers say that the impact of microbeads and other plastics on the ocean are quite well understood; however, less is known about the consequences of this pollution invading rivers and lakes.

Research shows fish consuming tiny bits of plastic suffer intestinal problems

Reporting from the Chicago Tribune reveals that the tiny microscopic pieces of plastic are showing up in the Great Lakes of North America, particularly Lake Michigan.

While conducting water sampling in 2013, researchers discovered more than 19,000 strands per square kilometer after using fine mesh nets to strain water near the surface.

"Microfibers accounted for about 16 percent of the plastic dredged from the water, compared with 4 percent of what they found in the rest of the Great Lakes," the Tribune reported.

The Wildlife Conservation Society confirms that a ban on products containing microbeads is definitely a step in the right direction, especially since alternatives are already available.

Eco-friendly alternatives to microbeads

Natural alternatives to microbead exfoliants include whole oats or baking soda if you have sensitive skin and are looking for something less harsh.

However, if you're interested in sloughing off dead skin cells, ground almonds, walnut shells and coffee all make excellent substitutes, according to Anna Naturals. And if that doesn't do the trick, sugar and sea salt are great options, as well.

For those interested in ensuring microbead products are avoided altogether, you can find a neatly compiled list documenting products that contain the plastic pollutants here.

In addition to cosmetics, plastic microbeads are also found in products like toothpaste and even in clothing, with the latter called microfibers.

Invisible to the naked eye, these "minuscule filaments" are very tiny fibers made from a variety of petroleum-based materials such as polyester and nylon that shed from clothing when laundered.

Again, due to their size, these tiny bits of plastic are not filtered out by washing machines or treatment plants. Some experts say that resorting back to natural fabrics made of cotton and wool could help curb microplastic litter.

Others suggest that manufacturers determine whether better filters could be added to washing machines, a system similar to the way in which dryers trap lint from clothes.

Sources:

BeatTheMicrobead.org[PDF]

NaturalNews.com

BusinessInsider.com

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