MIcrobeads are extremely small particles of plastic, each being as big as a grain of sand. They have become a huge issue for the environment, as they represent part of the microplastic problem in the oceans of the globe.
The worst part is that most of them are flushed down the drain and they are designed to be disposed of like that, given the fact that they are part of products people use on a daily basis, such as face wash or toothpaste, which are abrasive scrubbers.
“We’re facing a plastic crisis and don’t even know it. Part of this problem can now start with brushing your teeth in the morning. Contaminants like these microbeads are not something our wastewater treatment plants were built to handle, and the overall amount of contamination is huge. The microbeads are very durable,” ,” said co-author of the report Stephanie Green, who is a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow in the College of Science at Oregon State University.
These microbeads are now basically everywhere – from rivers to seas and freshwater lakes. The researchers call for a ban of microbeads from such products in order to offer some protection to water quality and to the environment in general.
During the research, the experts used very conservative methodology and managed to determine that there are currently about eight trillion microbeads going into the water every single day only in the United States. This is an extremely large amount of plastic, as it is enough to fill about 300 tennis courts.
And the bad news does not stop here. It was reported that other 800 trillion microbeads are inserted in the land through sludge from sewage plants. Out of these microbeads, it is safe to say that a large number reaches the oceans as well.
The lead author of the study, Chelsea Rochman, who is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California explains that microbeads represent just a part of the microplastic that is currently found “in aquatic habitats and in the gut content of wildlife.”
She also added that previous studies have pointed to this issue as well, so it is time something was done to put an end to this situation.
“We argue that the scientific evidence regarding microplastic supports legislation calling for a removal of plastic microbeads from personal care products,” she said.
On the bright side, many companies have become aware of the fact and have started removing the dangerous plastic from their products. Hopefully, this is going to become a trend and the number of microbeads present in the water every day will be lower.
Image Source: inhabitat