Many people, however, are unaware of the environmental impact of microbeads and microplastics. Microbeads are used in common products such as toothpaste, facial scrubs, body washes, and soaps. Companies around the world use polyethylene plastic micro-beads in these products, because they are cheaper than natural options, such as walnut husks or pumice, for exfoliants in personal products. The problem is that microscopic particles of the beads and the beads themselves are turning up in our oceans and lakes. (1,2) Since microbeads are too small to be sifted out at water treatment plants, they end up in our lakes and oceans. Many fish and other animals that live in or near oceans and lakes are consuming the microplastic, which puts them at risk from chemical pollution and us as well.
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