Microplastics - What is it and what does it do in cosmetics?

What is microplastic?

As a microplastic called plastic particles smaller than 5mm. They are difficult to biodegrade and are abundant[1].

How does microplastics come about and what are its properties?

Microplasticity is caused by embrittlement of plastic, by UV rays, and its mechanical abrasion. However, they are also produced intentionally, e.g. For cosmetics, such as toothpaste and shower gel. Their characteristics are the sculptures they spring from, i.a. Polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). However, they share some properties, e.g. their poor biodegradability, and their adsorption capabilities (the ability to accumulate other substances). Microplastic arises, according to a Lower Saxony declaration, with the three main origins, from rubber tires abrasion, production and transport losses and artificial turf abrasion. They also occur in food, by abrasion of plastic packaging, but also seemingly plastic-free containers such as glass have u.a. Plastic lubricants on [2].

Why is microplastic a problem?

Microplastic is not toxic to humans, which is why it is allowed (or was in countries), but it is harmful to the environment. It is very difficult to biodegrade and can therefore persist for a long time in the environment and in fish. Due to its adsorbing abilities, the plastic causes bacteria and toxins, which are carried along with it. It triggers stomach irritation and a lower energy budget in lugworms, which means that they no longer carry so many nutrients to the surface. Bacteria also settle on them, which, if they come in water treatment plants, can lead to serious problems for the water supply. Steps were taken against microplastics following the G-20 meeting in June 2017. The use of microplastics in cosmetics has been banned in the US since July 2017, and the UK is the first European legislator to ban it in toothpaste and shower gel. The federal government has been calling for a European ban for some time [3].

Why is there microplastic in cosmetics?

In cosmetics microplastics is used as consistency regulator. They give the product a certain smoothness and a good feeling on the skin. They are also used because of their mechanical properties as particles in peels, this they should remove coarse dirt from the skin by removing it, and scrub the skin a little coarser.[4]

Are there alternatives to microplastics?

Yes, it does, for a long time, biowaxes, e.g. The Cernauba wax, used in cosmetics. It comes from the Cernaubapalme, which grows in Brazil, has a yellowish color, is hard and brittle, and possesses the highest melting point of all natural waxes with 80-87 ° C. In addition, it contains no fragrances, which is important for allergy sufferers[4].

Sources:

Wikipedia[1][4]

Report on the effects of microplastics on lugworms[3][4]

Federal article on microplastics[2][3]

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