Friday, December 11, 2015

Why microbeads?

Amidst the fervent tide of opposition and sweeping legislation, Americans will soon be approaching a consumer market devoid of products containing microbeads. Their wanton destruction has been long documented by various environmentalists and scientists who have been pushing for their banning for years now. Given the information and pictures we’ve all seen of microbeads’ destruction to the environment, one has to question why companies even chose to use microbeads in the first place.

In a statement issued by P&G, Crest’s parent company, polyethylene microbeads are considered harmless to our health. The polyethylene is an FDA-approved food additive that shows no inherent risks to those that use it (although several dentists have mentioned microbeads getting stuck in gums and causing dental issues, much akin to a splinter stuck under the skin).

Microbeads were included in toothpastes due to positive feedback received from consumers, but dentists are saying the only caveat to having microbeads in the toothpaste is purely for aesthetic value. Trish Walraven, a dental hygienist, states, "They were added to provide color — to make you go, ‘Oh, my toothpaste is really pretty. They provide no scrubbing action. They provide no dermatological or dental benefit. And because microbeads are plastic (made primarily from polyethylene and acrylates copolymer), they don’t degrade.”

Although microbeads appear harmless to us, the effects they have on our environment is tremendous. Just think: trillions of microbeads have been released into natural habitats where they disrupt natural patterns and make their way back to our plates, health risks included. And why?

Well, because microbeads look pretty cool.

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