The project we have chosen for the Go Green Challenge concerns plastic microbead pollution of the Detroit River. Microbeads are found in many cosmetic items, toothpaste and soaps. They range in size from 0.0004 to 1.24 millimeters. Because of their small size, microbeads are not filtered out by our wastewater treatment plants.
Companies can substitute natural alternative exfoliates such as ground almonds, oatmeal and pumicefor the polyethylene and polypropylene microbeads they are currently including in their personal care and beauty products. The natural alternatives will not harm the marine ecosystem like the microbeads.
Because these microbeads are plastic they do not dissolve nor do they disintegrate. Instead they attract toxic chemicals that are part of our aquatic systems and often become part of the food chain for fish and other wildlife. Once ingested by these animals, the microbeads can cause nutritional deficiencies and even intestinal blockage.