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Microplastics (often labelled as 'polyethylene' on product labels) are used in some personal care products such as facial scrubs, cleansers and toothpaste. These particles are not retained by wastewater treatment so end up in the ocean. While microplastics aren't thought to be a health hazard to consumers, they are a threat to the marine environment.
As microplastics (plastic pieces of less than one millimetre diameter) are indistinguishable from plankton, the potential for ingestion by tiny crustaceans is wide. If these creatures ingest them and are eaten by other larger creatures and so on, microplastics can travel up the food chain. And because polyethylene is well known for absorbing toxins, these toxins could also end up in the seafood we eat like shellfish, white fish and tuna.
The three main sources of microplastic in marine environments are:
1) consumer products such as cosmetics,
2) breakdown of larger plastic material, and
3) the shedding of synthetic fibres from textiles by domestic clothes washing.
To reduce the amount of microplastic getting into our waterways:
Keep plastics, such as plastic bags and bottles, out of waterways
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is the foaming agent commonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, and toothpastes. It's also found in industrial products including engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash soaps. Although used in low concentrations in bodycare products, it ends up on the most sensitive areas of our bodies almost every day. It is well known in the scientific community as a common skin irritant. In stripping away oil and drying the skin's surface, it reduces the skin's ability to effectively regulate moisture, and increases the skin's absorption of certain other chemicals such as preservatives, fragrances and colour additives. It's used in our products primarily because it's cheap, often derived from palm oil. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is the alcohol form of SLS. It is slightly less irritating than SLS, but may cause more drying. There is mixed opinion as to whether SLS and SLES are carcinogenic (cancer causing), however, it is possible both may be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, which is a probable carcinogen.