Micro-beads ARE Toxic! A Follow-Up (by U. Khan)

On June 30th, 2016 the government of Canada took an important step to protect marine life, by adding microbeads to the list of toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). If you read my previous blog post on this subject, you will remember that microbeads are plastic particles that are used in various personal care products. They often end up in our lakes and rivers and are ingested by marine life. They can accumulate toxins and bacteria and transfer them up the food chain. The government has listed microbeads ≤ 5 mm as a schedule one toxin under CEPA. This means that it will now be easier for the government to regulate them and more towards a complete ban. It also allows for the development of regulatory instruments under CEPA to manage environmental risks posed by the plastic particles. You can look up other toxic substances under schedule one here.


A Personal Care Product containing microbeads. Source:  (Heather Brouwer/Sarnia This Week/Postmedia Network Files)

An encouraging part of this story is the fact that 5 of the largest users of microbeads in Canada have already stopped using them, and 9 others will be phasing them out in the next 2 or 3 years. Experts agree that the benefits of these plastic microbeads do not outweigh their negative effects. The exact schedule of the proposed ban is being worked out, but currently the government plans to stop the import and manufacture of these products by the end of 2017, and ban the sale by 2018. The US already has a law that will restrict the manufacture of products containing microbeads by July 1, 2017, and restrict their sale starting from July 1, 2018. With the addition of microbeads to the list of toxic substances under CEPA, Canada is one step closer to banning these harmful plastic particles.

You can read the full order on the Canadian Gazette website.

In case you are wondering what products contain(ed) microbeads, here is a partial list of products that contain microbeads in Canada:

Facial Scrubs
Brand Name Manufacturer Product Name Harmful Ingredient
Aveeno Johnson & Johnson


Skin Brighten Daily Scrub Polyethylene

(plastic that is used to make microbeads)


Aveeno Fresh Essential Daily Exfoliating Scrub
Clean & Clear Morning Burst
Clean & Clear Daily Pore Cleanser
Clean & Clear Blackhead Eraser Scrub
Neutrogena Deep Clean Scrub Exfoliate
Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Foaming Scrub
Neutrogena Deep Clean Daily Scrub
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Foaming Scrub
Neutrogena All-in1 Daily Scrub
Neutrogena Oil free Acne Stress Control Power Clear Scrub
Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash Pink
Olay Proctor & Gamble ProX Exfoliating Renewal
Olay Pore Minimizing Cleanser + Scrub
Facial Cleaner
Brand Name Manufacturer Product Name Harmful Ingredient
Aveeno Johnson & Johnson Cream Cleanser Polyethylene (PE)

Information retrieved from Beatthebead.org

It is also worthy to note that a number of Crest Toothpastes (made by Proctor & Gamble) contained microbeads until recently, the company decided to stop using microbeads from spring 2016.


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