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Microplastics - the poison for our places of well-being - and our life

Posted on October 12 2020

Microplasty - what is that actually?

Microplastics are small particles that are usually smaller than 5 millimetres and are hardly visible to the human eye. Water-soluble, liquid, wax and gel-shaped plastics are generally not counted among them. The effects they have on the environment have not yet been sufficiently researched.
Microplastics are either produced industrially or are created when larger plastic parts, such as plastic bags, break down into their individual components. In cosmetics, microplastics are preferably found as beads in peelings and shower gels as well as fillers or binders in creams, lipsticks etc.

Why is microplastics harmful?

The main problems of microplastics are that on the one hand they are mostly produced from the scarce raw material crude oil and on the other hand - what is even worse - they are not biodegradable. Thus it ends up unfiltered in incalculable quantities in our environment and our seas.
Also, sewage treatment plants are not yet able to filter the tiny particles completely out of the water, so that the microscopic particles end up in our water and above it in our fields and in the air. They are completely contained in a cycle in which they do not belong.
They remain there for centuries, serving as carriers for pesticides and environmental toxins that settle on them, and now function as supposed food for marine organisms such as fish, mussels and worms. Microplastics in the water act like a magnet on toxins, attracting and holding them, so that the absorption of the particles by living organisms leads to tumour formation and increased mortality rates. As if this was not dramatic enough, we additionally attack our own health with microplastics, as this "charged poisonous agent" also lands on our plates through the cycle (sea, agriculture etc.).
Additives are often added to the plastic to achieve additional properties. BPA (Bisphenol A), to name one of these additives, is far from being sufficiently researched, but is already known to be potentially harmful to health.

Microplastics in cosmetics?

Of the 300 million tons of plastic that are produced worldwide every year according to the Federal Environment Agency, an entire garbage truck full of plastic ends up in the oceans every minute. (see https://www.umweltbundesamt.de)
According to a study by the consumer platform Codecheck from 2016, up to 2.8 million plastic particles can be released into the oceans from a single tube of peeling. According to this study, one of the best-known microplastics, polyethylene, was still contained in every third peeling and every fifth lipstick, despite the voluntary commitment of some major cosmetics manufacturers to refrain from using microplastics in their products in the future. The Codecheck also shows that microplastics are represented in cosmetic products under many different names. For example, it is present as nylon-12 in make-up or acrylate copolymer in shower gels.
The BUND has written a shopping guide "Microplastics - the invisible danger" which contains the following microplastics which are most frequently found in cosmetics:
Substances Effect
Polyethulen (PE) film forming, viscosity changing, supports the cleaning effect and increases the gloss
polypropylene (PP) viscosity modifying
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film-forming
nylon-12 changes viscosity, reduces bulk density and transparency
nylon-6 changes viscosity, reduces bulk density and transparency
Acrylate copolymer (AC) reduces the static surface electricity, ensures the binding of cosmetic products, film-forming
Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylates Crosspolymer (ACS) emulsion forming, film forming, viscosity changing
Polymethyl methacrylates (PMMA) film-forming
Polyquaternium (P) film-forming, reduces the static surface electricity
polyacrylates (PA) film-forming
Polystyrene (PS) Viscosity changing, stabilizing.
After all, the proportion of microplastics in our environment resulting from cosmetics is not at the forefront. Nevertheless, and this is essential, it is avoidable!
The following pages offer support in the search for products without microplastics:
And for those who want it even easier, the magic word is: natural cosmetics.
Natural cosmetics manufacturers do not add microplastics to their products. So here you are on the safe side.

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