Why you need to ditch products with microbeads for good

Sep 19, 2015 at 9:16 p.m. ET
Image: Cultura/Getty Images

Check your medicine cabinet. Your toothpaste and face wash might contain microbeads, those little plastic balls that are supposed to help exfoliate off dead skin and bacteria.

You should ditch those... and pronto.

According to a new study, over 8 trillion microbeads are introduced into our water every day. That's just 1 percent, though: The rest — 800 trillion — end up in sewage plants and spread onto land.

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"Part of this problem can now start with brushing your teeth in the morning," said Stephanie Green, the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow in the College of Science at Oregon State University and co-author of the study.

"Contaminants like these microbeads are not something our wastewater treatment plants were built to handle, and the overall amount of contamination is huge. The microbeads are very durable."

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Eventually, these beads can transfer to animals and cause toxic effects, both to them and to the food supply. Some states have banned the used of microbeads. And if that wasn't enough, these microbeads can have a negative impact on your dental health.

"You are brushing your teeth daily with a plastic substance that can break down to a size smaller than a millimeter. This substance can then get stuck in your sulcus, which is like the 'cuticle' of your gum line where bacteria likes to fester," Dr. Jessica Emery, D.D.S., cosmetic dentist and owner of Sugar Fix Dental Loft Chicago, told SheKnows.

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"The microbeads can get trapped in this very sensitive and vulnerable area of your mouth, clearing a path for other unwanted substances like bacteria."