Evidence of microbeads from personal care product contaminating the sea

Mar Pollut Bull. 2016 Aug 15;109(1):582-585. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.05.046. Epub 2016 May 27.


Plastic microbeads in personal care products have been identified as a source of marine pollution. Yet, their existence in the environment is rarely reported. During two surface manta trawls in the coastal waters of Hong Kong, eleven blue, spherical microbeads were captured. Their sizes (in diameters) ranged from 0.332 to 1.015mm. These microbeads possessed similar characteristics in terms of colour, shape and size with those identified and extracted from a facial scrub available in the local market. The FT-IR spectrum of the captured microbeads also matched those from the facial scrub. It was likely that the floating microbeads at the sea surface originated from a facial scrub and they have bypassed or escaped the sewage treatment system in Hong Kong. Timely voluntary or legislative actions are required to prevent more microbeads from entering the aquatic environment.

Keywords: Hong Kong; Microbeads; Microplastics; Personal care and cosmetic products.

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics / chemistry*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Hong Kong
  • Microspheres
  • Plastics / analysis*
  • Seawater / chemistry*
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Cosmetics
  • Plastics
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical