Toxins in the Environment

Many beauty products also contain items that are harmful to the environment and animals, and more specifically, aquatic animals. One particle in particular that has many environmental issues associated with it are microplastics, which occur as the result of larder plastics breaking down with use. One of the most prominent contributors to this is beauty products (Anderson et al. 1). In one single year, 4,130 tons of microbeads are used in cosmetics in the European Union, which shows just how large the scale of this issue is (Guerranti et al. 76). For example, in one of an exfoliant, anywhere between approximately 4,594 and 94,500 microbeads are released. Other products that contain microbeads are shampoos, glitter and nail decorations.

Source: Flickr

Due to the nature of use, the majority of these will end up in wastewater, do not get filtered by sewage treatment plants, and eventually make it into aquatic environments (Anderson et al. 2). Microplastics are a pollutant that are highly resistant to environmental degradation due to their insolubility to water (Eixarch 1). Ingestion of microplastics can cause physical harm and reproductive or toxic effects, even death in certain cases (Karbalaei et al.). While the microbeads are ingested mainly by organisms in lower trophic levels, since they are then inside the animal they transfer to higher trophic levels, moving up the food chain. This leads to harm from microbeads in many, if not all, aspects of the ocean environment (Guerranti et al. 75). Much like beauty products, consumers are also not aware of the harmful items that are contained within their beauty products and are concerned and surprised when they are made aware of the issue (Anderson et al.).

In response to the harm caused to the environment, specifically the marine environment, individual countries are taking action to ban the production of microplastics. France implemented a ban on rinse-off cosmetic products containing microplastics. The United Kingdom implemented bans on both manufacturing and selling plastic micro-beads in cosmetic and personal care products. The United States has banned the manufacturing and marketing of these products as well (Eixarch 2).

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To learn more, check out related topics: HomepageEnvironmental InjusticesToxins in Human Health“Green” Beauty Products