Petrochemicals are the basic building blocks for various plastics products. Polyethylene, nylon polyethylene, polypropylene and others are products made from ethylene and propylene is used in the manufacturing of several types of plastics. Cosmetics products such as facewash, toothpastes, shampoo, body scrubs and others contain minuscule plastic particles called as microbeads. These microbeads are so tiny that they are close to invisible. Microbeads are washed down the drain and mix in the waterbodies such as lakes, rivers and oceans flowing through the drainage system. A tube of exfoliating facewash contains approximately 350,000 microbeads.
It is estimated that approximately 2.9 trillion microbeads enter U.S. waterways annually. The plastic microbeads concentrate contains toxins in them; these microbeads containing toxins is mistakenly ingested as food by fishes and other aquatic wildlife. It then enters into their body tissue and becomes harmful to them. A recent study found that one-quarter of fish purchased at California markets had ingested plastic.
Plastic microbeads are deleterious to wildlife and human health. As these are not biodegradable, more harm is been caused. Recently in December 2015, an environmental law has been passed in the U.S. to stop the manufacturing of facewash, toothpaste and shampoo containing plastic microbeads. This will eliminate harmful source of pollution to penetrate into the water bodies and help in saving the innocuous aquatic life.