They are common with beauty products, adding a sparkle that has lured consumers for years.
“Over the last year the concept of microbeads has come into many conversations,” says Dr. Chris Ramsey.
Ramsey spends a lot of time researching the latest dental trends and this topic has been a popular one inside his office.
“The first thing I tell people about microbeads is you got to know the first thing they are safe but they are a form of plastic.”
A form of plastic so small Ramsey says they can pass through our bodies without causing any major health problems. However, the problem comes after that.
Microbeads are seeping through our drains, past water and sewer plants and into the ocean at a rate of 8 trillion per day, according to a study published in Environmental Science & Technology. That means on any stretch of beach at any given moment you may be able to find them.
“If you look under microscopes you can start pulling it up in our sands, it’s not a good thing,” says Mark Perry of the Florida Oceanographic Society.
Perry picks apart debris along our coastline. “Bright colored, you can tell it’s not one of the natural sand fragments.”
He's one of many who sees firsthand the environmental impact of microbeads let alone plastics and it’s not just in the sand. Fish and sea turtles are consuming them at a rate that's alarming.
“This all came out of one turtle, a turtle about this size,” says Dr. Charles A. Manire holding a Ziploc bag full of plastic.
A new million dollar endoscope machine has been a lifesaver for the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach. It can peer into the danger that lurks inside sea turtles.
What's worse, according to experts at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, as plastics and microbeads break down they release toxins continuously affecting the health of these majestic creatures.
The tide has turned on what was once an exfoliating feature. Now companies like Proctor and Gamble, the makers of Crest, have already been pulling them from their products. They told us they're in the removal process now and will be finished by February of 2016.
More companies are joining the ban as the fight to attack it upstream at its source continues.
“State to state is different but the big turn is around 2017-2020 where you're going to see a lot of states say 'hey we will not sell any products in our state that involves microbeads,' ” says Ramsey.
Right now 9 states currently have legislation that will go into effect in January of 2018 banning certain products that contain microbeads. California is the only state with a complete ban. Florida has no legislation currently.