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Green tribunal orders test of cosmetics containing microbeads (Relevant for GS Prelims and Mains Paper III)

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Centre to test cosmetic products containing microbeads after a plea sought a ban on their use on the ground they are extremely dangerous for aquatic life and environment.

About Microbeads
Microbeads ( also called microplastics ) are tiny plastic substances measuring less than five millimetres that act as exfoliators (agents which remove dead cells) on skin and teeth when used in soap, toothpaste and other products. Many brands manufacturing beauty products use microbeads. 

Status of Microbeads
They are being banned internationally but Indian government has not banned them.
The United States has promulgated a ban, which will come into effect next July, on cosmetic products containing microbeads.
Over 299 million tonnes of plastic was produced worldwide in 2013 some of which made its way to oceans, costing approximately $13 billion per year in environmental damage to marine ecosystems, says a June 2015 report by the United Nations Environmental Programme that investigated the possible harm by microbeads/microplastics.

Arguments for ban
These plastics are too small to be caught by sewage treatment and water filtration techniques and they pass unchecked into rivers and seas and contaminated them. They take centuries to degrade and worse, are sometimes eaten by fish and other aquatic animals and could even make their way into human diets.
 



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