The Killer Bead

By Pran P.

Microplastics are small plastic beads and glitters that are much more dangerous than you initially thought. These small plastic particles can range from 1 to 5 mm. Microplastics are broken down from bigger plastic materials, like water bottles, and end up as plastic debris. But there are companies that purposely make these microplastics for their products. 245 metric tons are produced per year, and reside in facial scrubs, makeup, and soap. Most of these particles eventually find their way to the ocean, and into the body of sea creatures and animals.

These ‘exfoliating’ products are more harmful than you know. These beads in cosmetics immediately wash into the sewer, and make their way into the ocean, small enough to bypass any water filters. They are ingested by marine animals and birds, and can lead to eventual death. They may seem like a less of a threat because when we think of plastic, we think of the big bottles and cans that are in the ocean. While that is dangerous for marine animals, microplastic particles can pose a bigger threat, because they can reach and be ingested by a wider range of species.   

After being digested, these tiny plastic particles can lodge themselves in tissue, blood, or even the organs, such as the lungs, of marine animals and often creating respiratory problems. In some cases, they can get stuck between fishes gills, causing the same problem. Sea Cucumbers, which eat off of the sea floor, ingest more microplastics than other animals. The little microplastics weigh the Sea Cucumber down, and poison them slowly from the inside. In other animals, the particles block off feeding appendages, which can end up affecting their diet and routine.

 Microplastics can contain synthetic chemicals, which ultimately cause cancer, tissue damage, genetic mutations, blood disorders, kidney and lung damage, and so much more. Microplastics can be harmful to humans, and far even smaller creatures. Think twice the next time you pick up your foam cleaners, or some glitter pigments. Alot of the sparkle that comes in makeup and packaging are the microplastics that wash down the drain. These cosmetics companies choose to use microplastics because they are cheap, look pretty, and add pigmentation easily. There is an alternate way to use makeup without harming the environment. Some companies choose to use sea salt and grinded almond or walnut shells instead of plastic beads. While sometimes pricer, it does help save and preserve the ocean a little bit more. Reading the ingredients can go a long way to helping.

Categories Science

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