Scientists have discovered and found proof that conventional glitter used in make-up and body paint is harming rivers and lakes. They say that the biodegradable substitutes are not environment friendly either.
The micro plastics found in glitter make their way into rivers and oceans, and may take years to decay. The pollution caused by this harms marine life. Due to this scientists had called for a complete ban on glitter.
When tested in laboratories, it was deduced all types of glitter affect the growth of pond plants and microscopic algae.
A senior lecturer in biology at Anglia Ruskin University said, “Glitter is a type of micro plastic, it can have the same effects as other micro plastics and it shouldn’t be released in large quantities into the environment.
“And if you’re wearing it as make-up it would be sensible to wipe it off and put it in the bin rather than wash it into our waterways.”
Conventional glitter contains a plastic element made of polyester PET film, which is covered with aluminum and then coated with another thin layer of plastic.
Efforts to eliminate PET glitter have been made alongside introducing more biodegradable replacements.
A type of glitter, Mica glitter is used in cosmetics. Another kind has a base of cellulose, coated with aluminum for mirroring. This is then topped with a thin plastic layer.
Researchers conducted a natural experiment by testing glitter in water, sediments and plants taken from River Glaven in Norfolk. Miniature ponds were set up in laboratories and each of them contained six different types of glitter.
It was found that all types of glitter decreased the growth of plants such as duckweed and microscopic algae. Scientists say that the cellulose biodegradable form of glitter can lead to further disruptions in the food web as it resulted in a lot of non-native snails.
The impact of glitter on plants and snails was observed after 36 days. Experimenters are more concerned with the effects of large amounts of glitter rather than smaller quantities.