During a lecture in one of my classes, my professor mentioned that fish in the ocean are eating face wash. I had never heard about this and didn't exactly know what she was talking about, but being a fish and seafood lover, I definitely thought it was worth doing some research and here is what I found out.
What's Going On
You know those little balls that are in a lot of face washes that are said to unclog your pores? Well, they are actually plastic microbeads. When you're washing your face, these little microbeads go down the drain and end up in our rivers and oceans. Because the beads are so small, the drain can't catch them, which is why they end up in our bodies of water.
About eight trillion microbeads end up in our waterways each day according to a study in Environmental Science and Technology. I have never really thought about where these beads go, but it is actually pretty important and we should be worried.
After making their way into the oceans and rivers, they absorb toxins in the water and are eventually eaten by fish and other marine life, the same animals that we end up eating. Not only are the toxins bad for both fish and people, but the plastic itself is as well. For example, plastic contains bisphenol A (BPA) which could cause cancer in people. I don't know about you, but I definitely do not want to be eating plastic.
What's Been Done About It
Turns out that this is such a big problem that it has even been voted on by Congress. In 2015, Obama passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act which banned the manufacturing of products containing microbeads by July 1, 2017 and the selling of these products by July 1, 2018.
While this is a good start, the only way to stop contributing to the pollution is to stop using products that contain microbeads since they will still be sold for over a year and half. If you don't want to eat plastic, and I doubt our marine life does either, so help out the fish (who are both friends and food) and consider buying a new face wash.