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Digital Subscriptions > Cottage Life > Winter 2016/17 > BALL BUSTING



If you’re still using products that contain microbeads, you may want to think twice. The tiny plastic beads—used in soaps and toothpastes and too small to be removed during waste-water treatment—can build up in our lakes after they go down the drain. And now, a recent study suggests that they allow toxins to accumulate in the bodies of the fish that ingest them.

Researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and from Hainan University in Haikou, China, fed fish beads laced with PBDEs, a common water contaminant. The fish were found with significant levels of the chemical in their bodies, proof that the plastic particles can leach pollutants into tissue. Although the study was conducted on freshwater fish taken from the Murray River in Australia, the results have global implications. “We would expect a similar outcome in most types of freshwater fish,” says Sherri Mason, a professor of chemistry at the State University of New York at Fredonia, who studies the presence of microplastics in fresh water.

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About Cottage Life

Get outside! 50+ ways to embrace the magic of winter. Snowmobile buyer's guide. Wolves in crisis. The coolest hot tubs. 25 cottage gifts. Best cottage photos of 2016.