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Killer Toothpaste

Abrasives in Toothpaste are Poisoning Fish


Ugelstad spheres. Those tiny plastic spheres with unnatural colours that you see in toothpastes (and some facial scrubs). They are too tiny to be caught by municipal water filters, they easily flow into the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers. In water they can break down, releasing toxins, or become coated with other poisons, such as PCBs.

This was what Anthony Ricciardi, a scientist at McGill University had to say:

“…Scientists had assumed that they (the Ugelstad spheres) floated in fresh water and were flushed downriver to the sea. Yet Mr Ricciardi has shown that some sink to the bottom of lakes and rivers, where they are eaten by bottom-feeding fish, which then develop diseases. Some of these fish, such as yellow perch, end up on dinner plates. Less is known about what happens to people who eat them. Dentists report finding the tiny orbs in patients’ gums.”

Governments are stepping in to curb this plastic pollution:

“…On July 30th Canada’s labour minister declared by the shores of Lake Ontario that microbeads will be considered a toxic substance. The government now plans to prohibit the manufacture, import and sale of “personal-care” products that contain them. Eight American states have already enacted bans, starting with Illinois in 2014. The Illinois ban does not apply to biodegradable microbeads, though their safety is unproven (it is unclear whether or not Canada’s will). California and New York are contemplating tougher restrictions. Four European countries, led by the Netherlands, are pressing the EU to prohibit their use in cosmetics.

…Public pressure has forced some manufacturers to take action on their own. Unilever has stopped using microbeads; Proctor & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson say they will follow in 2017. Loblaws, Canada’s largest retailer, will remove them from their in-house brand a year later.”

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