Cosmetics as Emerging pollutants
Careful! The cosmetics you’re using may be adding on to the pollutants in the environment. Personal health care products and cosmetics like standard sunscreens, shampoos, body & face washes and even toothpaste contains some non-biocompatible ingredients that are emerging as major concern for environmentalists. Let’s take a closer look at the different cosmetic ingredients which are potentially polluting the environment and how,
Microbeads are tiny bits of plastics found in exfoliating body washes, facial scrubs and toothpastes. When this plastic-laden wastewater goes through treatment plants, about 99% of the beads settle into sludge, which is often used as fertilizers. High concentrations of microbeads have been discovered in the Great Lakes and other freshwater reservoirs. The smallest of microbeads can become snacks for plankton which may be ingested by other fishes. This not only puts the life of the animal at risk but also increases the possibility of the pollution-laden plastic making its way to your dinner plate. Many countries have initiated ban on microbeads including France, Netherlands, and United States. India’s microbeads ban will enter force in 2020.
BHA and BHT
Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene are popular preservatives used in moisturizers and make up. Although they have been suspected as hormone disruptors, both of them are also linked to potential environmental harm. Due to its tendency to bio accumulate and toxicity to aquatic organisms, the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic has listed BHA as a chemical of potential concern. Studies have found that it causes genetic mutations in amphibians. BHT also has a moderate to high potential for bioaccumulation in aquatic species.
Sunscreens can reach the aquatic environment directly, via wash-off from the skin surface during swimming or bathing as well as indirectly through wastewater from the use of personal care products, washing clothes, and industrial discharges. Studies have reported that chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzon are toxic to coral and are also contributing to the decline of reefs. They are also responsible for altering coral DNA and have been proven fatal for baby coral.
Spraying of perfumes or deodorants or other synthetic fragrances produces as much Air pollution as Car emissions. According to a study, the ingredients used in preparing synthetic fragrances are proving harmful to the marine environment. Wastewater treatment plants don’t break them down, which means they slip into the rivers and oceans via sewage discharge. The National Geographic reported that they “compromise a cell defence mechanism that normally prevents toxins from entering cells.” That means that even if they don’t harm organisms on their own, they can reduce the organism’s ability to protect itself from other toxins.
Triclosan are used in anti-bacterial products like hand sanitizers and laundry detergents. When triclosan is washed down the drains, it can alter the biochemistry of amphibians, fish and aquatic plants. It doesn’t degrade quickly, tends to accumulate in the environment, and reacts with other chemicals in waterways to form dioxins, which are toxic.
Eco-friendly cosmetics have been introduced to significantly reduce pollution and waste. Many beauty brands are lifting the lid on natural, organic and eco-friendly products like shampoos, make ups. Environmental friendly products from cosmetics for personal care to household and cleaning products have been introduced in the market.