“What component of personal care products cause a high amount of pollution?”
Cleanliness is a necessity for modern day civilization. And as human civilization advances, so does our standards and means obtaining cleanliness. And one such advancement comes in the form of microbeads. Microbeads, also known as microplastics, are solid plastics that are less than 5mm in diameter that are used as exfoliating agents (meaning that they can wipe off dead skin cells) This small size combined with the cleansing property poises microbeads to be very useful in personal care products, but they come with a most unfortunate environmental consequence. When flushed down the drain, microbeads are able to pass through filters normally designed to catch larger pollutants, allowing them to seep into a body of water. The microbeads will stay around for a long period of time due to their lack of biodegradability, and nearby fish will consume these products (believing them to be small eggs) which in turn will cause physiological harm. In an interesting turn of events, these fish can be harvested and consumed by humans, therefore causing detriment to ourselves. In summation, microbeads are a stalwart example of how humanity impinging on the environment will cause long-term impairment on humanity. Microbead pollution has become so prevalent that the Rhine river in central Europe is thought to contain one million particles per square kilometer! Luckily, numerous governments are already taking action, and in the United States the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 will phase out microbeads in rinse off cosmetics by July 2017.