The microbeads in your body wash are slowly filling the Great Lakes with plastic

Jun 26, 2013 by

Grist

By Sarah Laskow

Think of the fish!
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Think of the fish!

Sigh. You think the world would have caught on by now that plastic is one of the most incidentally destructive inventions the human race has ever come up with. Sure, L.A. just banned plastic bags, which is great. But meanwhile those tiny microbeads — the little bits of plastics in body wash that cosmetics companies invented for no real reason except to have a new thing to sell their customers — are slowly accumulating in the Great Lakes, where fish eat them.

Scientific American reports:

They are too tiny for water treatment plants to filter, so they wash down the drain and into the Great Lakes. The biggest worry: fish such as yellow perch or turtles and seagulls think of them as dinner. If fish or birds eat the inert beads, the material can deprive them of nutrients from real food or get lodged in their stomachs or intestines, blocking digestive systems.

I know, I know. But your skin feels so soft! (Does it? Does it reeeeallly?) Well, don’t worry: soon you’ll probably be able to buy “natural” mud from the Great Lakes that’s full of the same exact exfoliants!

Sarah Laskow is a reporter based in New York City who covers environment, energy, and sustainability issues, among other things. Follow her on Twitter.

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