Microbeads were created in 1976 by John Ugelstad. These beads are produced by polystyrene and are precisely the same size today as they were years ago. These beads were to be used in the treatment of cancer, help with home pregnancy tests, and other biological testing. However, microbeads have actually been an environmental disaster.
What Are Microbeads?
Microbeads are small spheres that are either 0.5 to 500 µm (micrometer) in diameter. These are used to get into hard-to-reach places. In fact, they can be found in many household items such as body scrubs, body washes, and some kinds of toothpaste.
How Microbeads Harm the Environment
So how do microbeads harm the environment? Over 8 trillion microbeads are washed down drains every day. Furthermore, 8 trillion make it into lakes, oceans, and rivers. A single shower, using a microbead body wash, can cause over 100,000 microbeads to be washed down the drain. Additionally, these microbeads can then be consumed by marine animals, which will cause devastating effects on their wellbeing.
Not only are microbeads risky to the environment that the fish live in, but they are also hazardous to human life. For example, if you go fishing, catch a fish, and cook one that has consumed microbeads, those microbeads could enter into your system — and those microbeads can also have a toxic effect on your body. Another important aspect to be aware of? Microbeads may also cause issues with your plumbing pipes if they build up in the drain.
Microbeads are slowly, but surely, becoming banned everywhere, including in the United States. As time goes on and more research is done to show the toxicity of microbeads, they will be banned worldwide. You will want to make sure that you do your research to ensure that none of the products you use have microbeads in them to not only protect yourself and your plumbing but the environment as a whole.
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