Facial and body scrubs do a good job of exfoliating our skin. However, those products that contain microbeads to achieve skin smoothness are bad for the environment. So bad, that the state of Illinois is banning the use of microbeads in personal care products.
They plan to phase this requirement in by 2019.
Unbeknownst to many of us, those microbeads are made of tiny plastic particles. The particles are too small to be filtered out and are consumed by fish looking for food.
Microbeads have been flowing in massive amounts into our rivers and oceans but in 2012 and 2013, scientists discovered that they have also polluted the Great Lakes. This was found after skimming surfaces of all five Great Lakes with special nets. (1)
And, it gets worse.
The microbeads also have the ability to absorb toxic pollutants, such as oil and pesticides. When fish consume the beads and then are eaten by larger fish, the amount of toxins will accumulate making those fish increasingly hazardous for human consumption. Birds that eat those fish are also at risk.
Microbeads appeared on the market during the 1990s as a superior method to smooth skin. They do not pose an environmental threat themselves, however their use was not thoroughly thought through, when it came to their disposal down our drains.
Other states besides Illinois are considering passing similar bills to ban the use of microbeads in products. Both California and New York are currently evaluating similar legislation. The New York bill contains language that bans microbeads in products by 2016.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., a New Jersey Democrat, introduced a bill proposing a nationwide ban that would take effect in 2018, according to CBS news.
The Netherlands is proposing a ban on microbeads in Europe, Science Alert reported.
CBS news stated, “Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate, Unilever and L'Oreal are among the companies announcing plans to replace microbeads with natural substances such as ground-up fruit pits, oatmeal and sea salt.”