All That Glitters

Sparkly Microbeads Face Ban




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Scientists have called for glitter to be prohibited due to the threat it poses to wildlife. The glistening, decorative, plastic microbead powder may seem harmless, but environmental researchers report it’s a dangerous pollutant, particularly in oceans. Trisia Farrelly, Ph.D., of New Zealand’s Massey University, notes, “Their diminutive size and sparkling appearance make them appealing to animals, which will eat them.”

Seven U.S. states now restrict the use and sale of products with microbeads; California was the first in 2015. The British government will ban rinse-off microbeads—plastics of less than one millimeter in length—found in exfoliating scrubs, shower gels, toothpaste and even on greeting cards.

Plastics are found in a third of all fish caught in Great Britain, according to a study by Richard Thompson, Ph.D., professor of marine biology at Plymouth University. He says of shower gel with glitter particles, “That stuff is going to escape down the plughole and potentially enter the environment.”


This article appears in the May 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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