GUEST VIEW: It’s time to tackle the microbead

The following editorial was published in the March 20 edition of the Grand Haven Tribune:

(TNS) Take a look in your medicine cabinet, shower or at a cosmetic aisle in a local retailer, and you might be surprised to learn of a tiny problem that exists that’s negatively impacting our lakes and rivers.

That problem is the microbead — a plastic particle added to countless personal care products worldwide. The beads are added to personal care products to keep us looking our best, but they have the opposite effect on the environment.

According to the Beat the Microbead advocacy group, the bits of plastic are hardly visible to the naked eye, flow straight from your drain to the sewer system, and end up back in the water supply since wastewater treatment plants are not designed to filter out microbeads.

Having bypassed treatment barriers, the beads then end up back into the natural world, where they inevitably become part of the marine food chain. The beads aren’t biodegradable, and once they enter water, they’re a challenge to remove.

A growing concern about these hazards has caused lawmakers to take note.

In Michigan, lawmakers have several pieces of legislation in the works that are designed to prohibit the sale of microbead products. There have also been efforts on the federal level to implement a broad-scale ban on products containing microbeads.

As the concern mounts and elected officials make their voices heard, makers of the products have also rethought the use of microbeads. Companies ranging from Avon to Unilever have pledged to phase-out the use of microbeads in their products within the next few years.

Given the harmful consequences these products can have on our water supply and the marine food chain, it’s good to see serious consideration is being given to make changes.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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