Let's break down what microplastics are to have a better understanding of why they pose health and environmental risks. Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that have broken off of larger plastic debris or have shed from clothing that contains synthetic fabrics. Microplastics are no bigger than 5 millimeters in size, about the size of a sesame seed. As you can imagine, this makes them difficult to see and filter out of food and water. 

Many health and beauty products like facial cleansers and toothpaste may also contain microplastics. Some products may disclose that their products contain microbeads for exfoliating purposes; however, these micro beads are made of polyethylene, a plastic compound. Due to their small size, microbeads are able to pass through water filtering mechanisms and often find themselves dispersed into the ocean.