But Al would be doing the recoiling if he read this short paper about microbeads.
This Viewpoint (non-peer reviewed) paper was just published (3 September 2015) in ES&T:
'Scientific Evidence Supports a Ban on Microbeads', by Chelsea M. Rochman, Sara M. Kross, Jonathan B. Armstrong, Michael T. Bogan, Emily S. Darling, Stephanie J. Green, Ashley R. Smyth, and Diogo Veríssimo
Here are the first three paragraphs:
Microplastic has been reported in every major open ocean and many freshwater lakes and rivers. Its small size makes it bioavailable to thousands of species across nearly all trophic levels. Because of the difficulty of large-scale cleanup, environmental managers, scientists, and environmentalists have stressed that the best solution to microplastic pollution is source reduction. Recently, one source of microplastic has received much attention in the media and from policy makers: plastic microbeads.
Microbeads are plastic fragments or beads ranging in size from roughly 5 μm to 1 mm. They are made from synthetic polymers including polyethylene, polylactic acid (PLA), polypropylene, polystyrene, or polyethylene terephthalate. Microbeads are used in hundreds of products, often as abrasive scrubbers, including face washes, body washes, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies, and are used as a replacement for natural exfoliating materials, such as pumice, oatmeal, or walnut husks.
Microbeads are designed to be discarded down the drain. Because of their small size, some microbeads are littered into the environment via final effluent or biosolids (sewage sludge) from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and have become one of the many types of microplastic debris reported in aquatic habitats. [click on the graphic to enlarge it]
In this analysis, and using extremely conservative methodology, the researchers estimated that 8 trillion microbeads per day are being emitted into aquatic habitats in the United States – enough to cover more than 300 tennis courts a day. But the other 99 percent of the microbeads – another 800 trillion – end up in sludge from sewage plants, which is often spread over areas of land. Many of those microbeads can then make their way into streams and oceans through runoff.
I think it's time to worry, Al.
"What, me worry?" - Alfred E. Neuman