As of Oct. 15, any synthetic polymer particle under 5 millimeters that resists degradation can no longer knowingly be added to any products put up for sale.
As the commission noted, this will cover granular material used in sports surfaces, cosmetics products, detergents, fertilizers, glitter, toys, and medicine, among other items.
The move comes as the European Commission aims to reduce microplastic pollution by 30% by 2030, as revealed in its Zero Pollution Action Plan.
Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said in a press release: “Banning intentionally added microplastics addresses a serious concern for the environment and people’s health. Microplastics are found in the seas, rivers and on land, as well as in food and drinking water. Today’s restriction concerns very small particles, but it is a big step towards reducing human-made pollution.”
Microplastics are becoming an increasing problem and ending up in water sources, seafood, and even the air we breathe.
While there is still much to learn about the effects of microplastics on the human body, Science News cited a 2022 study published in the Environment International journal that found microplastics in the blood samples of 17 out of 22 volunteers from the Netherlands.
Science News also noted microplastics have been found in the human lung, breast milk, and maternal and fetal placental tissues.
If plastic enters our bodies, there is a possibility that chemicals and toxins used in the development process could leach into the human body, leading to potential health problems.
Plastic is one of the world’s biggest polluters. Not only does the manufacturing process release planet-warming gases from dirty energy sources into the atmosphere, exacerbating global heating, but since the finished product is not recyclable, it can easily make its way into water supplies and the global food system.
Reducing the production of microplastics for consumer purposes, therefore, will not only benefit human health but will also have a significant impact on the environment.
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