The dangers of microplastics

We all use microplastics, we just don’t know it.

According to NOAA, Microplastics are “Microbeads are tiny pieces of polyethylene plastic added to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers and toothpastes.” That’s right, the things that we use in our daily lives to help us and our appearance are in fact hurting the environment.

This is extremely evident in the content of the Great Lakes. In my hometown of Erie, PA, there were 46,000 plastic particles found in the lake, and that residents who drink the tap water consume over 4,500 plastic particles. Lake Erie is the shallowest and most densely populated of the Great Lakes, which means it’s ripe for microplastics to cause an extreme danger to the ecosystem.

But it’s not just lakes that are at risk from microplastics. Most freshwater bodies of water (lakes, rivers, ponds, etc.) have some kind of water runoff in them, and it’s almost a guarantee that this runoff has some kind of microplastic in it. At face value, it looks harmless, the water cycle in action. But instead, microplastics are in the water, serving as an invisible detriment to our ecosystem.

But there is legalization in place to fix our microplastics problem. In 2015, then-president Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which banned Microplastics as being included in products. One of the hopes within in Government is that microplastics will be out of products by 2020, but a more realistic goal would be around 2021.

There are alternatives out there that consumers can use now to try to lower the number of microplastics. Beatthemicrobead.org has a list of products that have either a limited number of microplastics or none at all.

We as humans have done some horrible things to our environment. Microplastics are just another one of them. Luckily for us, it’s a relatively easy fix, one that hopefully becomes a reality soon.

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