Plastic Microbeads! Rubbing Plastic On your face???

With an increasing number of health threats related to plastic, the use of microbeads in cosmetics is also becoming a major threat to human health. 

Face Scrubbing

Plastic Microbeads

Microbeads are very small Particles of plastic. Sometimes they can’t even be seen through the naked eye. They mostly consist of polyethylene. They are often used in tubes of toothpaste, personal care, and beauty products (Often used to remove dead skin).

Now, I would like to pour some light on the consumption areas of Plastic Microbeads.

Due to the increasing phobia of losing beauty, everyone is somehow in the race to gain artificial beauty. To get fresh skin, everyone, especially women, can do anything. By knowing such a mindset of the public, the cosmetics industry is taking full advantage by selling every healthy and unhealthy product on the market. 

Microbeads are widely used in the cosmetics industry. They are mainly used in products that are designed specifically for the removal of dead skin cells. Further, they are used in body washes, cleansers, facewashes, foundation, blush, and many other household products.

Microbeads and Environment

Microbeads are very dangerous in terms of the sustainability of the environment.
Microbeads are so small that they can pass through the wastewater treatment systems, and then we all know that wastewater can enter the oceans, rivers, and clean water drains. These microbeads look like food to aquatic animals. They often mistakenly consume them as food. In this way, marine life can be badly affected.
Microbeads on Beach
A team of researchers from the State University of New York presented a study in which they claimed that from 1500 to 1 million microbeads were present per square mile on the lake’s surface. Now you can know how much damage microbeads are doing to marine life.
With this disturbance to marine life, the whole ecosystem will get affected, which can cause other major environmental issues regarding environmental sustainability.

Microbeads and Human Health

There are many health problems associated with microbeads as microbeads are being used in tubes of toothpaste. They can damage our gums as if they are stuck under one’s gum and can lead to gum disease.
Microbeads, when used in skin products, can cause skin diseases. They can damage the skin to let the germs in and eventually end up in acne problems, skin allergy, and redness on the skin.
Skin Redness
As mentioned above, microbeads are so small that they can pass through wastewater treatment systems.
As an Environmental Engineer, I know that after passing through the wastewater treatment plant, there is no further barrier to restrict microbeads from entering the oceans, rivers, and other clean water drains. 
So they directly pollute these major water resources. Due to that pollution, marine animals will surely be affected badly. A significant number of humans depend upon marine animals for food. Consuming those affected animals as their food will surely compromise their health.

Why Cosmetics Industry is still Using Microbeads

This question will raise in every sensible person’s mind when we know that microbeads are not healthy for us, then; why the cosmetics industry is still using them in such a number. But sensibility and humanity are the things that are becoming very rare these days around the globe.

Everyone is considering their materialistic benefits as their top priority.

So here are some reasons why industrialists are using microbeads:_

  • Microbeads are cheap, and that will cut the cost of the product.
  • They can prolong the shelf life of the product.
  • They can give a good feel while rubbing the face. (Abbrasiveness)
  • They give a good appealing look to the product.
  • They can give good short-term results to the consumers.

How Can we minimize the risk of Microbeads?

To minimize the risk of microbeads, we have to restrict them from their first point of entry to the environment. So for that purpose, we need to do some legislation to stop the use of microbeads in personal care products.

But your strategy to combat this issue will depend upon where you live.

People in developing countries still don’t know the side effects of microbeads, while in developed countries, proper legislation has been passed to stop the use of microbeads.

In 2012, the North Sea Foundation and Plastic Soap foundation launched an app for dutch people by which they can confirm whether their products are microbeads free or not. One year after the launch of this app, the UN Environment Program and UK-based NGO Fauna and Flora International expanded it further for international consumers. This app succeeded and convinced many people to quit using products containing microbeads.

Many countries have banned the use of microbeads in the production of cosmetics. Those countries include

  • USA
  • UK
  • Taiwan
  • Sweden
  • Canada
  • Argentina
  • New Zealand
  • Netherlands
  • Italy
  • France
  • China
  • India

Alternatives To Microbeads:_

There are some alternatives to microbeads that are biodegradable or can be filtered out during the wastewater treatment systems. Some multinational companies (L’OrĂ©al & Johnson and Johnson) are trying to avoid using microbeads and these alternatives. 

  • Almonds
  • Sea Salt
  • Apricot pits
  • Coconut Husks

Team Enviro Experts need your support in this cause. Do share and like this post as much as you can. Keep in touch about the latest environmental issues.

Author: Engr. Husnain SultanEnvironmental Engineer. Passionate to spread awareness regarding current and future environmental crisis.An international consultant, advisor and trainer with expertise in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection and resource conservation.

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