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Microbead Bans - Throwing Out Science With the Seawater [analysis]
Jan 17, 2018 (Daily Maverick/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- Copyright Daily Maverick. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

Canada and the UK are the latest countries to enact bans on microbeads - small exfoliating beads found in personal care products. But what little scientific basis there was for doing so has just been exposed as a fraud, resulting in the retraction of the only paper that claims microbeads are a significant threat to marine life.

When baseless fears are whipped up by environmentalists, politicians are quick to capitalise by introducing new laws and regulations to pacify the fearful public. This plays into the myth that politicians and the regulatory state are the only things standing between corporate greed and environmental catastrophe.

The idea that regulation ought to be based on sound science is thrown out of the window, and many such rules turn out to achieve extremely little, if anything at all. They can even be counterproductive.

So it is with the recent trend to ban microbeads, small plastic balls used in bath products as a scrubbing aid or exfoliating abrasive. There are campaigns worldwide to prohibit their use, on the grounds that they end up in rivers, lakes and the sea, where they might be ingested by fish who mistake them for algae or plankton. Many countries...

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