Check Home Products for Microplastics
Microplastics are pieces of plastic less than five millimeters long that are currently prevalent in our waterbodies, posing a threat to aquatic life. Taken from the EDIS document #SL435, Microplastics include plastic particles with an upper size limit of 5 mm or 1/5 of an inch (Figure 1; Wright et al. 2013). Microplastics include (1) pieces from the degradation of larger plastic items made from polyethylene (plastic bags, bottles), polystyrene (food containers), nylon, polypropylene (fabrics), or polyvinyl chloride (water pipes); (2) nurdles, which are pre-production resin pellets used to manufacture plastic items and as fillers for toys and squishy pillows; and (3) microbeads, which are added to many personal care products (such as toothpaste) for color, shine, or as fillers.
Microplastics can make their way into oceans, lakes, and rivers by getting rinsed down the drain as we use products that contain them, or by accidental dumping during transport for industry. How can we reduce the amount of microplastics ending up in the Earth’s water column? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Refuse. To check your home products for microplastics, please use the link below. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has compiled a list of commonly used household products and their ingredients. Look for ingredients such as polyethylene, which code as a microplastic.