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Microbeads: What you didn't know and how it affects Clevelanders

Have you heard the buzz on microbeads lately? Those tiny, hard particles in face soap, tooth paste, nail polish and even boat washing products are tiny pieces of plastic. Although they seem so puny and insignificant, the beads are causing a lot of trouble.

What's the Issue?

Microbeads make their way down the drain and into streams, lakes and then into the Great Lakes and the oceans. They are not filtered out of either septic systems or sewage treatment systems. Plastic often absorbs pollution around it - the honest to goodness technical term for this is to "glom!" Fish and other marine dwellers often mistake microbeads as food. Most fish can't digest the particles and so the glommed pollutants as well as the plastics get absorbed into the fishes' vital organs or stay in their stomachs. This isn't good for the poor fish but it doesn't stop there - then we eat the fish! To top it off, the Great Lakes, especially our own Lake Erie, are found to have the highest amount of microbead pollution. Many health and beauty companies have already pledged to phase out the use of microbeads by 2019 which seems like ages away. A handful have already stopped using them.

What You Can Do

It turns out that the little people can do a lot to affect this pollution concern. Step up to the task!

:: Go for products that either don't exfoliate or use natural scrubbers - some companies use crushed walnuts, for instance. Boycott companies that use plastic scrubbers - or better yet: let them know that you're ending your health and beauty relationship with them on their Facebook page.

:: Make your own body scrubs with salt or sugar. Find some sugary recipes from Premeditated Leftovers here and salt scrub recipes from Mother Nature Network here.

:: There's an App for that! Download the app, "Warning: Plastics Inside!"by Stichting De Noordzee in partnership with North Sea Foundation for your smart phone. You can scan most beauty products to see if they are polluting our waterways!

:: Additionally, let your senators and representatives know what you think. Some states are passing regulations against microbeads. Will Ohio be next?

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