Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Your Soap Harming Sea Life? Ban on Microbeads Gains Momentum

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Your Soap Harming Sea Life? Ban on Microbeads Gains Momentum

Article excerpt

Researchers say that the tiny microbeads - 1mm to 5mm orbs of plastic - often found in soap and toothpate are harmful to sea life.

"We've demonstrated in previous studies that microplastic of the same type, size and shape as many microbeads can transfer contaminants to animals and cause toxic effects," Chelsea Rochman, the David H. Smith Conservation Research Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California/Davis, said in a statement. "We argue that the scientific evidence regarding microplastic supports legislation calling for a removal of plastic microbeads from personal care products."

According to the Michigan Watershed Council, consumers wash these miniscule bits of plastic down the drain by the ton each year, but because they are so small, they slip through water-treatment facilities and end up in larger bodies of water.

In August, Canada announced steps to "prohibit the manufacture, import, and sale of 'personal-care' products that contain them."

"Microbeads can have an adverse impact on the environment so I am proud that our government is taking decisive action to stop the release of this toxic substance into our waters," Leona Aglukkaq, Canadian minister of the environment, said in a statement regarding the issue.

The Christian Science Monitor reported.

Makers of toothpaste and facial scrubs have begun to respond to the growing backlash. Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive have stopped using microbeads; Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson say they will follow in 2017. Loblaws, Canada's largest retailer, plans to remove them from its house brand. But these companies are also urging their governments to ban the use of microbeads by all manufacturers, according to The Economist.The UN Environmental Assembly has estimated that the damage caused by microplastics in marine ecosystems costs around $13 billion annually. …

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