Plastic Microbeads in Minnesota

Microbeads are small plastic pellets used in personal care products such as hand soap, exfoliating scrubs and toothpaste. When these products are used by consumers and are washed down the drains of sinks and showers, the microbeads end up in wastewater treatment systems. Depending on the type of wastewater treatment, some of the microbeads will be captured in the biosolids, or sewage sludge, but some will make it into the effluent and be discharged to Minnesota surface waters. Microbeads may also end up in the soil or groundwater from subsurface (septic) wastewater treatment systems. Since Minnesota wastewater treatment plant biosolids are typically land applied, it is possible that some of the microbeads reach surface waters via runoff from land-application areas as well. Researchers have found a variety of microplastics, including microbeads, in surface waters in the United States. Although the MPCA has not identified any studies on microbeads in Minnesota waters other than Lake Superior, it is reasonable to assume that the use of microbead-containing products in Minnesota and wastewater treatment within the state is comparable to other states and will result in the same release of microbeads to Minnesota lands and waters. In May 2014, the Minnesota Legislature directed the MPCA to compile information on the presence of plastic microbeads in the state's waters and their potential impacts on aquatic ecosystems and human health. This report fulfills this legislative requirement.""
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Minnesota Pollution Control Agency


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Minnesota Water Research Digital Library
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