Have you ever considered that you may be ingesting harmful ingredients from your personal care products on a daily basis? In recent years, more and more studies have shown that marine life is being contaminated by plastic microbeads found in personal care products, with serious consequences for human health.
In 2004, Professor Richard Thompson of the University of Plymouth in the UK published an article in the journal Science on the distribution and research findings of microplastics in the environment. This was the first academic article to conclude that microplastics and plastic fibers are ubiquitous in the marine environment. Microplastics are created when large plastic materials gradually break down into smaller particles that cannot biodegrade, and as a result, these microplastics accumulate. When these microplastics are exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun or washed away by external forces, they break down into even smaller fragments. Microplastics in the ocean thus accumulate at an alarming rate.
Apart from the microplastics created by larger plastic materials, the biggest source of microplastics comes from personal care products that we use every day, such as exfoliating face masks, facial scrubs, lotions, and body washes. These products contain plastic microbeads, which are added to help cleanse and exfoliate the skin. Microplastics are defined as plastic particles or fibers that are smaller than 5mm, but in fact, plastic microbeads in personal care products are almost always smaller than 1mm. After these products are used, they are washed down the drain and the microplastic particles are small enough to pass through wastewater treatment filters and enter the marine environment. These plastic microbeads, from all over the world, then flow through drainage systems into rivers and canals, and ultimately, they are consumed by marine life. How do you know if your personal care products contain plastic microbeads? You can check the list of ingredients for the following:
Polyethylene Polypropylene Polyethylene Terephthalate Polymethyl Methacrylate Nylon
You may find that many of your personal care products contain microplastics! In response to the severity of the problem, the United States led the way in 2015 by enacting legislation to ban the manufacture, import, and sale of products containing plastic microbeads, effective from July 2017. The use of plastic microbeads is unnecessary and there are many alternatives. To protect the health of the planet and future generations, it is advisable to use fewer beauty products that contain plastic microbeads.