Microbeads : Environment for UPSC Exams

Microbeads : Environment for UPSC Exams


  • Microbeads are manufactured solid plastic particles of less than five millimeters in their largest dimension.

  • They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene.

  • They are used in exfoliating personal care products, toothpastes and in biomedical and health-science research.

  • Microbeads can cause plastic particle water pollution and pose an environmental hazard for aquatic animals in freshwater and ocean water.

  • In the US, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 phases out microbeads in rinse off cosmetics by July 2017. The Netherlands was the first country to ban cosmetic microbeads in 2014.

  • Microbeads are washed down the drain, can pass unfiltered through the sewage treatment plants and make their way into rivers and canals, resulting in plastic particle water pollution.

  • A variety of wildlife, from small fish, amphibians and turtles to birds and larger mammals, mistake microbeads for their food source.

  • This ingestion of plastics introduces the potential for toxicity not only to these animals but to other species higher in the food chain.

  • Greenpeace refers to it as a “toxic time bomb”. Once in the marine environment microplastics can both release and absorb toxins, which can then move throughout the foodchain.

Online Crash Course for UPSC PRE Exam

Printed Study Material for UPSC Pre General Studies (Paper-1)

<< Go Back to Main Page