Conservative government motions to add microbeads to the list of toxic substances

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The small particles are often not caught by sewage treatment plants

By Lauren Kelly, News Editor

Months after the NDP passed a unanimous motion in the House of Commons to end the sale of microbeads, the Conservative government has proposed adding them to the list of toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Act.

This decision comes after Environment Canada discussed the matter with experts in the field and reviewed over 130 scientific journal articles.

Microbeads are small plastic particles often found in skin care products and exfoliators. They have recently become a concern after it was found that the beads were able to pass through sewage treatment plant filters and enter local lakes and rivers. A US study of the Great Lakes found 466,000 microbead particles per square kilometre near cities, and 46,000 in other areas.

This is dangerous, as fish can mistake the beads for food, causing the microbeads to enter the food chain.

Currently, companies such as Johnson & Johnson and The Body Shop have promised to phase out products with microbeads in them, and Illinois, New Jersey, and Wisconsin will be banning the sale of microbeads within their borders in the next few years.