Canada moves to ban tiny plastics that accumulate in Arctic ice
Canada moves to ban tiny plastics that accumulate in Arctic ice Microbeads widely used in body washes, toothpastesNUNATSIAQ NEWS
Tiny plastics are in this toothpaste, among the many cosmetic products and toiletries which contain microbeads. Microbeads, which also accumulate in Arctic sea ice, are known to attract toxic contaminants and be near impossible to remove from the environment. (PHOTO/ WIKIPEDIA COMMONS)
Canada said it will plans to ban the sale of toiletries like body washes, toothpastes and facial scrubs which contain tiny plastic balls called microbeads, effective July 1, 2018.
A year later, the ban will apply to natural health products and non-prescription drugs.
The Nov. 5 announcement in the Official Gazette followed a notice published in August, which stated that the environment department looking at regulations “to prohibit the manufacture, import, sale or offer for sale of personal care products that are used to exfoliate or cleanse and that contain plastic microbeads.”
The ban will have a direct impact on the Arctic: These plastic microbeads, first patented for use in cleansers in 1972, now end up in Arctic sea ice, where they act like magnets and attract other contaminants.
Wastewater treatment plants in the South are unable to filter out these microbeads because of their small size and buoyancy.
So travelling microbeads find their way into Arctic sea ice—and, when the ice melts, it releases the microbeads.
Under conservative estimates of sea ice melt, one trillion microbeads are set to be released into the environment.
A 2014 research study found Arctic sea ice samples contained tiny particles of the micro plastics, with concentrations in sea ice higher than those in water.
In the 1990s manufacturers first started using microbeads to replace more natural materials, such as ground almonds, oatmeal and sea salt.
So today, many skin scrubs, body washes and toothpastes contain thousands of these tiny synthetic balls.
Now, you can avoid using products with microbeads by staying from those which include polyethylene or polystyrene in the ingredients list.
In March 2015, the New Democratic Party started the review of microbeads, with a motion seeking support in the House of Commons that “microbeads in consumer products entering the environment could have serious harmful effects, and therefore the government should take immediate measures to add microbeads to the list of toxic substances managed by the government under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.”
The beads were officially declared toxic by Canada this past June.
The United States will ban microbeads, effective July 1, 2017.