Microbeads, or Micoplastics are made of tiny polyethylene(plastic) specks. They’re commonly used as scrubbing beads in exfoliating products and are also used to impart colour, like in chewing gum and toothpaste.Typically, they are ranging in size from 0.0004 to 1.24 millimeters.These coloured Polyethylene (PE) specks are FDA-approved food additives.They are coloured with FDA approved dyes. Neutrogena Deep Clean face wash contains about 360,000 microbeads per tube,according to the 5 Gyres Institute.In Canada, Health Canada validates the safety of oral health products. Health Canada has determined the coloured polyethylene specks used in some oral care products are safe to ingest. It and the FDA have no safety concerns with the limited use of polyethylene specks in some toothpastes.They are not absorbed when ingested and eventually end up in our sewers. These particles are much too small to be filtered out by waste water facilities, so they are just passed along with the cleaned water, which eventually makes its way into the environment and into the Great Lakes,where they accumulate.
In December 2013, a paper was published in Marine Pollution Bulletin and described how the Great Lakes were choking from this plastic pollution. While Lake Michigan had an average of 17,000 microbeads per square kilometer, some areas of Lake Ontario had as many as 1.1 million beads per square kilometer.Marine animals mistake them for fish eggs and ingest them. Unable to digest the particles, their gut becomes filled with the plastic. The small fish who eat the plastic are eaten by progressively larger fish, all of whom begin to accumulate the plastic.Plastic absorb pollutants like motor oils,pesticides,phthalates and PCBs.
The toothpaste controversy started when Trish Walvaren, a dental hygienist in Phoenix, began blogging about the blue specks she was finding embedded in patients’ gums on a near-daily basis. She compared the plastic bits, made of polyethylene, to popcorn hulls stuck in the small channels where the gums meet the teeth, called sulci. There has been more documented cases amongst dental professionals since then. There is a serious concern of the long term effects of the accumulation of these beads in the gums.
To date,however neither my hygienist nor I have seen this clinically.
Toothpaste brands that are known to contain Microbeads:
Here are some brands that I have been able to find. Some of these may be American brands. It is NOT a complete list:
Crest Pro Health
Crest Pro Health for Me
Crest Complete Multi Benefit
Crest 3D White
Crest 3D White Luxe
Crest Tartar Protection Whitening
Oral B Stages Kids toothpaste (available through Dental Profession)
Crest Cavity Protection
- Crest Tartar Protection Gel
- Crest Tartar Protection Paste
- Crest Tartar Protection Whitening
- Crest Baking Soda & Peroxide
- Kids’ Crest Cavity Protection
On September 19,2014,Procter and Gamble issued a statement on the Canadian Dental Association website:
“ Today, some of the most popular products do not contain microbeads including Crest Whitening + Scope, Crest Baking Soda Peroxide, Crest Cavity Protection, and Crest Tartar Protection Whitening.
Movement to remove microbeads:
There has been a lot of publicity on this subject.Several States have of are considering legislation to take them off the shelves.
On September 19,2014,
Procter and Gamble(Parent company of Crest) said:”
“Microbeads were included in some of Crest’s toothpastes based on the positive feedback from people who use these products. Dental professionals will attest that enjoyable toothpastes generally promote longer brushing time and thus healthier outcomes. Based on the understanding that preferences change, P&G have begun removing microbeads from their toothpastes, and the majority of their product volume will be microbead-free by March 2015. They will complete the removal process and all Crest products will be microbead-free by March 2016. ”
According to Yahoo Health(September 18,2014):
Crest isn’t the first company to make a pledge — albeit a publicly pressured one — to eliminate plastic from personal-care products. Earlier this year, Unilever, the maker of Dove, Lux, and Clear, among other personal-care brands, announced that it would phase out microbeads in its hygiene products by Jan. 1, 2015. L’Oreal recently committed to eliminating the plastic beads from all of its scrubs by 2017; The Body Shop, a L’Oreal-owned company, will phase them out by 2015. Johnson & Johnson, whose brands include Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, and Aveeno, has set the end of 2017 as its deadline for removing microbeads, which it says are used in exfoliating face and body washes, although it plans to eliminate them from about half of its products by the end of 2015.”
Here in this office we do not carry any of these products ever since I became aware of the microbeads mid August 2014.