Scientists are always on the lookout for new discoveries that seek to improve how oral care products work. Take use of microbeads of instance. It used to be one of the most popular methods of adding abrasive qualities of oral care products. It wasn’t long before scientists discovered that these beads were not as effective as initially thought. That is why these products got banned. But what are microbeads in the first place? How does their ban benefit you? Read on to learn more.
What They Are
In simple words, they are small and solid manufactured plastic particles that do not degrade or dissolve in water. They are also less than 5 millimeters in size. Mostly used as abrasive agents and exfoliants, they mostly feature as ingredients in most personal care products. The fact that they can also prolong the shelf life of a product explains why they are extremely popular.
The Environment Factor
This is by far the greatest benefit that comes along with the ban of such beads. Because they are not biodegradable, they pose serious environmental threat. Recent studies indicate that they can escape into rivers and other water bodies undetected. This is partly because their small size makes it hard for sewage systems to filter them. In New York City alone, at least 19 tons of microbeads get washed down through the city’s drains each year.
Fish, birds and other animals mistake microbeads for food. They eventually fill their stomachs with them. It does not end there. Once these animals consume these tiny plastics, they pass them on along the food chain. Eventually, they get to humans. In short, excess microbeads lead to and wildlife contamination.
There are no so many studies that seek to find out how microbeads affect human health. The few ones conducted by different research firms all agree though that there is a direct link between microbeads and microplastics in general and some forms of cancer. They can easily accumulate in the kidneys, liver intestines. Keep in mind too that it is a well-known fact that increased levels of oxidatives stress liver molecules. This can easily result in liver complications which can be life threatening. Other studies also claim that microbeads cause brain complications.
All is not lost given that there are alternatives. There is for instance, the Microbead-Free Waters Act enacted in 20015. The act prohibits any form of manufacturing, delivery and sale of products that contain microbeads. This ban is not limited to toothpastes alone. It also covers cosmetics and over the counter drugs. That explains why nearly all manufacturers in the US have now replaced microbeads with sustainable and biodegradable options like apricot kennels and crushed nut shells.
Point To Note
Always search for the American Dental Association mark or seal of approval in toothpastes. The seal is only awarded to toothpastes and other dental care products that are free of microbeads. Such products also boast of relative dentin abrasivity score of 250 or less. This means the toothpaste you go for will be gentle on your enamel.