Plastic micro-beads in exfoliating soaps harming marine life

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Plastic micro-beads in exfoliating soaps harming marine lifeMany people turn to exfoliating soaps to help clean their skin more thoroughly but there’s a good chance most don’t know what makes up those tiny exfoliating scrubbers.

Many products use what are called “micro-beads” to create that exfoliating effect from their soaps. These beads are made of a plastic material and provide a low level of abrasion to the skin that many believe removes layers of dead skin to reveal a healthier level of their epidermis.

A leading group of marine biologists and scientists these micro-beads are harmful and should no longer be used in these soaps. According to a CNN.com report, researchers at University of Plymouth (U.K.), have documented evidence that shows these micro-beads can embed in the tissue of marine life and likely have residual adverse health effects for those animals. The beads are capable of absorbing toxic materials and if they become embedded, their effects on the health of marine life could be immeasurable.

And as more of these exfoliating soaps that turn to plastic micro-beads reach the market, the problem will only be compounded.

Being plastic means they do not dissolve when they’re applied to the skin or washed off in the shower. These beads empty into the drain just like everything else in a tub and make their way through a water system that will often lead to a major body of water, at least eventually.

The study performed by the university was unable to draw conclusions on the impact of marine life ingesting these micro-beads but enough research has already been done to convince at least one major soap company to halt all use of plastic micro-beads in its exfoliating soaps.

CNN also reports that Unilever has announced that it intends to stop using micro-beads in its soaps. It plans to phase out their use by 2015. Unilever is the name behind such popular soap and health and beauty care brands like Dove, Vaseline, and Pond’s.