The ingredient in your face wash and toothpaste may be harming the oceans

VANCOUVER – NDP environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert is urging the B.C. Government to take action against plastic microbead pollution.

These microbeads are found in everything from exfoliating face washes and body scrubs to toothpaste, but a non-profit group known as Surfrider is teaming up with Chandra Herbert, saying these plastic beads soak up toxins like a sponge and pollute our waters.

“British Columbians I talk to are surprised to learn that they may be unknowlingly polluting our lakes, rivers, and ocean by buying and using skin creams, toothpaste, and more that contain tiny plastic microbeads, which then wash down the drain and into our water,” said Chandra Herbert in a statement.

“Scientists are sounding the alarm about the effect that these plastic microbeads are having on our ocean and fish, which is why I am calling on the B.C. Liberal government to step in and stop the sale of these polluting products.”

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The plastic particles are listed in the ingredients as ‘polyethylene’.

In a recent study, Dr. Peter Ross of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Pollution Science Program, found as many as 7,630 microbeads in just one cubic metre of the ocean.

“And that’s just in one cubic metre off of the coast,” said Chandra Herbert. “So not right at the sewage outfall but out in the middle of the ocean where it’s diffused quite bit. So that’s quite staggering.”

“The amount of microbead plastics found in the Great Lakes have been even higher. So we think that by acting today, to ban plastic microbead pollution, we’re going to be taking a step forward for greater ocean health, a stronger economy and a better environment.”

Matthew Unger, chair of Surfrider Foundation Vancouver, said banning microbeads is also important for human health.

“Microbeads pass through wastewater and sewage treatment plants and enter the ocean where they are ingested by marine life. The toxins and plastic particles make their way back up the food chain and onto our dinner plates. This is a dangerous cycle that will affect human health,” said Unger in a release.

The state of Illinois recently banned the manufacture and sale of products containing microbeads and the company Unilever has agreed to phase them out by 2015.

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Chandra Herbert said the B.C. Government should also be taking action.

“Governments in other jurisdictions are taking action to keep these polluting products off store shelves and the B.C. government should be doing the same,” he said. “No one wants to eat plastic, so why are we making our fish do just that?”

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