The National Green Tribunal is a specialized body to handle environment disputes involving multidisciplinary issues in India. It was established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 on Oct. 18th 2010. Recently, the National Green Tribunal issued notices to the ministries of environment, water resources and health, asking for their comments on microbeads found in personal care products.
Microbeads are tiny plastic particles, also called polyethylene microbeads that can be as large as 5 millimeters or invisible to the naked eye. These tiny particles are mostly used in personal care products such as face scrubs, body washes and even toothpastes, where they act as abrasives or exfoliates, replacing natural ingredients such as sand, walnut kernels and seeds. But toxicology and marine experts are sounding alarm bells on their impact on the environment.
Alok Dhawan, director, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) under Council of Scientific and Industrial Research said: “There is a lot of research already flagging the concerns. Because these are cosmetics and not drugs, one can surely live without them. Why would anyone want to use something that destroys the environment?”
Marine scientists say there is very little research in India but the repercussions could be alarming. "They get into the digestive tracts of even large mammals and small fish and choke them to death." said Deepak Apte, director of Bombay Natural History Society.
Currently, the US has already prohibited “manufacture and introduction into interstate commerce of rinse-off cosmetics containing intentionally-added plastic microbeads” by “Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015”. Besides, a voluntary phase-out of products containing microbeads has been announced by Australian Environment Minister.
The National Green Tribunal now seeks a complete ban on use of microbeads in the manufacture, import and sale of various cosmetics or personal care products. The views of Indian central governments are expected to be heard on April 18th.
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