Microbeads listed as "toxic substance" by federal government

Jun 30 2016, 9:14 pm

Better check the ingredients of your favourite beauty products.

The federal government has amended the Environmental Protection Act to include microbeads that are smaller than five millimetres in their list of “toxic substances”

The House of Commons voted to add microbeads to the list on March 24 of last year, prompting the Department of the Environment to review existing research on them.

The Department of the Environment found that plastic microbeads “have shown adverse effects in aquatic organisms.”

“In addition, plastic microbeads may reside in the environment for a long time and they are continuously released to the environment resulting in long-term adverse effects on biological diversity and in the ecosystem,” reads a report from the federal government. “As a precautionary step, the government is adding this substance to the List of Toxic Substances to allow for regulatory development.”

Plastic microbeads are most commonly used in beauty products that are meant to exfoliate the skin.

More than 130 scientific publications were reviewed to produce a summary on the consequences of microbeads entering the ecosystem. The government says due to their small size, it’s easy for microbeads to slip through wastewater treatment plants and enter rivers and oceans. Birds, fish, seals, and other organisms may then ingest them.

in 2014, around 100,000 kilograms of microbeads in personal care products were shipped to Canada, while up to 10,000 kilograms were manufactured here.

A number of Canadian companies have voluntarily taken microbeads out of their cosmetic products, notes the report.

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