Small pinhead sized plaster beads that act as scrubbers in toothpaste, facial scrubs and shaving creams are finding their way into fresh water sources. Although these items are approved for use in those products, they are not biodegradable and end up being eaten by small fish as they resemble fish eggs. The smaller fish are then eaten by larger fish and this plaster finds its way into their flesh and eventually into food products.

Since these beads are not biodegradable, the ones that  are not eaten collect on the bottom of water ways and attract toxic materials such as  motor oil, fertilizers and insecticides.

Currently, New York and California are considering banning microbeads. Microbeads have been found in the Great Lakes, Including Lake Michigan, which is the source of the City’s drinking water. Waste and water treatment plants are not able to filter out microbeads. A single tube of facial scrub can contain over 305,000 microbeads. While these products may be gentle for your face, they are not good for the water supply.

Manufacturers have taken note of this environmental hazard. Unilever will phase out microbeads by 2015, while Johnson and Johnson will stop developing new products which contain this hazard. Walgreens is considering removing microbeads from its house brand items.

There is currently legislation pending in Springfield to ban microbeads by 2017. While this is commendable, action should also be taken on the federal level. Please contact your state and federal representatives and urge them to take action.

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