Personal Grooming Scrubs may be Harmful to Fish in the Great Lakes and Beyond

Image created by: The National Aquarium

Image created by: The National Aquarium

Today, I felt compelled to do a little detective work on my face wash. You might ask why would I do such a thing, and what does this have to do with Ocean Conservation?

Well the other day, Scientific American posted an article discussing the results of a startling survey conducted by the State University of New York at Fredonia. The Survey measured the plastic pollution in three of the Great Lakes (Huron, Superior and Erie). One of the most prevalent plastics found in the Lakes were small plastic beads a millimeter in diameter, known as micro plastic. These plastics are found in many personal grooming products as abrasives, such as face cleansers or body scrubs.The problem here is that the micro beads are so small that they can’t be filtered out and end up in our water ways. According to chemist Lorena Rios of the University of Wisconsin–Superior 1,500 to 1.7 million plastic particles per square mile were found by her team in the great lakes.

Great Lake in Michigan

These particles have the potential to block digestion in fish species and starve them of nutrients. Fortunately, this has not been seen in fish within the great lakes as of yet. In addition these plastics can easily absorb chemicals that can potentially affect species DNA, causing deformities. Finally these micro beads can stay in the environment for over 50 years. Further studies are currently being conducted to keep an eye on the potential of the pollutant.

In an effect to protect our waters I encourage you to investigate the personal grooming products you currently use. Using all natural products is suggested. Below you will find a few products that do not contain Plastic Micro beads that can be found at a local pharmacy.


Finally if you feel like this is not enough, feel free to support 5GYRES campaign by signing their petition- 

 “…I support the elimination of plastic polyethylene micro-beads in all personal care products and urge Procter & Gamble to take the environmentally responsible action of removing them from their products by no later than January 1st, 2015.”

See full Report at: Personal Grooming Products May Be Harming Great Lakes Marine Life


One thought on “Personal Grooming Scrubs may be Harmful to Fish in the Great Lakes and Beyond

  1. Great topic.

    I started reading about microplastics a while ago and it is indeed a depressing story. Every time I wash my clothes microscopic plastic particles from my synthetic fabrics are leeching into our waterways. I thought I was doing the right thing a few years go when I started buying clothing made from recycled plastics. Turns out plastics are never a good idea, recycled or otherwise.

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