Glitter is popular with many people. You can find glitter on fancy holiday cards, in some cosmetics, and on your preschooler’s latest artwork. One annoying thing about glitter is that it has a tendency to spread. Environmental scientists are calling for a ban on glitter because it is an ecological hazard.
Dr. Trisia Farrelly is an environmental scientist. She said all glitter should be banned because it is a microplastic. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that microplastics are the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes. Microplastics come from larger plastic debris that breaks down into smaller pieces. Microplastics also come from microbeads that are added to exfoliants and other health and beauty products.
Most glitter is made of aluminum and a plastic called PET. It stands for polyethylene terephthalate. PET is a strong, stiff, synthetic fibre and resin that is a member of the polyester family. PET is the most widely recycled plastic.
Richard Thompson a professor at Plymouth University, and his team have shown that marine organisms ingest and retain microplastic particles that have the potential to release chemical contaminants. The Royal Society of Chemistry noted that microplastics have been detected in seafood sold for human consumption, such as mussels, oysters, and sea salt. It has been estimated that the average European consumer could ingest up to 11,000 microplastic particles per year.
The UK will implement a ban on microbeads (the microplastic that is found in face washes and body scrubs) beginning in 2018. The US put The Microbead-Free Waters Act in place in 2015. Glitter in soaps that washes off is banned, but craft glitter hasn’t been banned yet.
In the meantime, parents should choose biodegradable glitter. Or, if you prefer, you can use the news about glitter’s potential to harm the environment as a good reason to ban glitter from your home!
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