Canadian government lists microbeads as a toxic substance
Thursday, June 30, 2016, 4:09 PM - The federal government has officially listed microbeads -- tiny pieces of plastics found in a wide range of personal care products -- as a toxic substance, paving the way for an eventual ban.
Microbeads are typically made from polyethylene, the same material used to make plastic water bottles.
While they have been approved to be used in a wide range of personal care products in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, several provinces, states and countries have been trying to ban them for some time.
Industry officials say the beads have been used to "enhance the visual appeal" of products and offer no health benefits.
An online statement by the government posted Wednesday says the beads are now considered toxic under the Environmental Protection Act, allowing officials to better control or prohibit their use.
According to the notice, 5 of the 14 companies that make up the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association have already stopped using microbeads. The remaining nine are expected to follow suit within the next two to three years.
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The government is targeting plastic beads smaller than 5 mm in size and found in personal care products.
According to the CBC, 100,000 kg of plastic microbeads for use in exfoliants and cleansers were imported into Canada in 2014 and an additional 10,000 kg were used domestically in the production of personal care products.
PLASTIC IN THE ICE
Last year, a team of researchers discovered there could be trillions of pieces of microplastics lurking in Arctic ice, and as it melts due to rising global temperatures, it stands flood the ecosystem with an unprecedented amount debris.
"Arctic sea ice from remote locations contains concentrations of microplastics at least two orders of magnitude greater than those that have been previously reported in highly contaminated surface waters," the study's author's write.
"Our findings indicate that microplastics have accumulated far from population centers and that polar sea ice represents a major historic global sink of man-made particulates."
The research team believes that Arctic ice is trapping floating microplastics as it freezes. By citing current melting trends, the team estimates that 1 trillion pieces of plastic could be released in the next ten years.
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