MICROBEADS ON THE WAY OUT
Recently, tiny plastic microbeads have appeared almost everywhere in hundreds of toiletries, facial scrubs, body washes, and toothpastes. Once these miniscule beads slip through North America’s water treatment plants, they accumulate in rivers and the Great Lakes, then flow downstream toward the ocean.
They apparently resemble fish food and are readily ingested by fish, as investigations in the Great Lakes have shown over the years. The microbeads have been known to absorb, or serve as transport vehicles for hitchhiking toxins. Ultimately fish-eating waterfowl, gulls, terns, cormorants, herons, kingfishers, Ospreys, and Bald Eagles become part of this food-chain.
Major cosmetic companies (e.g. Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, and Procter & Gamble) have been working on bead phase-outs; nine states have already made phase-out the law. Last month, fortunately, both the U.S. House and Senate passed, and President Obama signed, a piece of legislation to completely eliminate the beads in the U.S. by 1 July 2017.
More details on these microbeads, the toxins, and their impact can be found here:
This short article appeared in The Birding Community E-Bulletin