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Your facewash, scrub may have tiny plastic bits: Study

May 01, 2018 06:25 AM


Your facewash, scrub may have tiny plastic bits: Study
Microplastics’ are usually added to personal care products to either make them more abrasive or for decorative purposes
NEWDELHI: A new study has found that several personal care products sold in Delhi and across India contain tiny pieces of plastics, known as ‘microplastics’ and ‘microbeads’ that enter the food chain can even come back into the human system through fish.

The study done by a Delhibased NGO, Toxics Link, says that these microplastics — found in bodywash, scrub or facewash — can also contribute to the dwindling population of fish in the rivers and lakes.

The research states that ‘microplastics’ and ‘microbeads’ are added to personal care products for a number of reasons, such as to make the product more abrasive or for decoration.

Researchers tested 18 products, including facewash and bodywash, covering 16 major consumer brands, to check IF they contain microplastics and microbeads. They were all purchased from Delhi, even though they are available across India.

“Results indicate that 28% of all the products tested contained microplastics. At least 50%of the facewash samples and 67% of the facial scrubs were found to contain microplastics. Other products such as toothpastes and shampoos could also contain them,” said Priti Mahesh, chief programme coordinator of Toxics Link, who was a member of the research team.

These tiny beads are washed down the drains when you rinse off. As they are smaller than 5mm and some even smaller than 1mm, they evade the routine filtration system at sewage treatment plants and eventually get discharged into the rivers and oceans. “Microplastics are mistaken as food particles by fish. These particles then block the digestive tract and damage tissue systems. These particles can travel up the food chain and reach us,” said Satish Sinha, associate director of Toxics Link.

Research is still on across the globe to find how these tiny plastic pieces can affect humans, experts said that floating plastic

beads attract a range of known toxic chemicals, which also enter the food chain along with microplastics. “Just like secondary pollutants which are formed in the air, these toxic chemicals after latching on to the microbeads also act like secondary particles. Many of these contaminants are endocrine disrupting chemicals, persistent organic chemicals and other known chemicals, which can affect even the human reproductive system,” said Alok Dhawan, director of CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research in Lucknow.

Earlier in January 2018, the National Green Tribunal had directed the Union government to

test cosmetics containing microbeads. The decision came on the heels of a plea seeking a total ban on cosmetics containing microbeads by a Delhi-based lawyer.

“Microplastics is a worldwide threat and is a major source of marine pollution. Even though microplastics are banned in many countries including the US and Europe, there is hardly any legislation in India. The Bureau of Indian Standards has classified microbeads as ‘unsafe’ for use in cosmetic products but it is still being allowed to use,” said Sinha.

The NGO is plans to conduct another research to find out the presence of microplastics in the river and other water bodies

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