Your toothbrush bristles may not be the only plastic you put in your mouth this morning – what you probably assume are the flavor crystals in your toothpaste may actually be plastic microbeads. And soon, they’ll be disappearing from your tube, thanks to growing public concern about the bead’s effects on both marine and human health. Procter & Gamble, the maker of Crest, has pledged to eliminate microbeads from its toothpastes by March 2016, according to a statement released to ABC15 in Phoenix.
Microbeads are found in several Crest’s toothpastes, including the Pro Health and 3D White lines, according to Beat the Microbead, an international campaign against the polyethylene beads.
The ADA, American Dental Association, said, “At this time, clinically relevant dental health studies do not indicate that the Seal should be removed from toothpastes that contain polyethylene microbeads.” Crest Pro Health is one such ADA-approved toothpaste that contain the beads.
Crest isn’t the first company to make a pledge – albeit a publicly pressed one – to eliminate plastic from personal-care products. Earlier this year, Unilever, the maker of Dove, Lux, and Clear announced that it would phase out microbeads in its hygiene products by Jan. 1, 2015. L’Oreal recently committed to eliminating the plastic beads from all of its scrubs by 2017; The Body Shop, will phase them out by 2015. Johnson & Johnson, whose brands include Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, and Aveeno, has set the end of 2017 as its deadline for removing microbeads.
But it’s not the risk of an uneven complexion – or even the dental-health concern- that’s primarily prompted companies to take a stand against plastic beads. In 2012 research commissioned by the 5Gyres Institute, a nonprofit that aims to reduce plastic pollution, revealed an alarmingly large amount of plastic floating on the surface of the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Erie.
We traced it back to plastic mircobeads from personal-care and dental produces that wind up in the environment. Since microbeads are less than one-fifth of an inch in diameter, they often pass through the filtration systems at wastewater treatment plants. That’s how they end up floating in oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water.
These little bits of plastic are alarmingly indestructible and linger almost indefinitely in oceans and lakes. Even scarier, they can absorb chemicals contaminating the water, which marine life then consumes along with the beads.
Illinois and New York have passed bills banning these microbeads. Ohio, New Jersey, and California will be voting on the proposed bans in the future. To identify plastic-containing products, simply scan the ingredients list for polyethylene (or look for the words like “microbeads” or “micro-exfoliates” on the front). You can also refer to Beat the Microbead’s lists of personal care items in the United States that used microbeads as of August 2014.
If you need help finding dental care health products that are effective and safe, please call the office at 760-729-9050 or reply to this blog.
Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Lawrence