A collaboration between Australia's RMIT University and China's Hainan University showed up to 12.5 per cent of the chemical pollutants on microbeads passed into the fish that eat them. Once the chemical pollutants are in the food chain, they can accumulate as bigger fish eat bigger fish that are eventually eaten by humans..
The problem is that these little pieces of plastic, known as polyethylene, are an excellent transporter of phenanthrene, a byproduct of fossil fuel burning that's a dangerous ocean pollutant.
Not only that, but they can’t really be broken down properly since sewage systems are not designed to remove microplastic, and so they remain in the water. Their miniscule size means that marine animals often mistake them for fish eggs, a natural part of their diets. So if you partake in the occasional fish meal, its possible for these microbeads to get inside our bodies.
Why are microbeads so full of pollutants?
The plastic beads themselves aren't so bad, but because plastic is porous, it absorbs all the pollutants and heavy metals in the ocean.