Microbeads found in facial scrubs/Great Lakes (Credit: The 5 Gyres Institute/5gyres.org)
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The small, plastic microbeads found in some facial and body washes have prompted a Suffolk County legislator to push for a study of their effect on the environment.
“There are thousands in any particular container and they build up in the environment, such as our Long Island Sound and our bays and our waterways here on Long Island. And our shellfish and other smaller organisms could really be feeling the effects,” she said.
Kara Hahn said they will wait for the three-month study’s results and then decide whether the products should be banned in the county, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported in February, the beads are very small and it would take 50 of them to cover Abraham Lincoln’s head on a penny. But they are in use in over 100 products – mostly skin creams that tout exfoliating properties, but even some toothpastes.
“If we put something like this into the environment so that the smallest, tiniest creatures are dying off as a result, that will affect every creature up the food chain, including ourselves,” Hahn added.
Rubbing the cream with the beads on one’s skin results in a gritty, sand-like feel. The idea is to scrape away old skin and open pores.
But you can’t tell what’s in the grit unless you read the label. Many creams actually use crushed pearls or shells, but the microbeads are also very popular – and there is a reason for it.
“The manmade pieces are spherical, so they’re perfectly round, and thus, are gentler on the skin,” said cosmetics store owner Judy Graham.
Illinois became the first state to outright ban the sale of products containing microbeads.