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I found a face scrub that states Polyacrylamide as an ingredient. Should I avoid it because Polyacrylamide is used to make the microbeads?

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No, polyacrylamide is not used to make plastic microbeads

According to Wikipedia, polyacrylamide "is highly water-absorbent, forming a soft gel when hydrated." This property makes it useful for several functions:

  • Manufacture of soft contact lenses
  • As a thickener and suspending agent
  • As a filler in facial cosmetic surgery
  • As a soil conditioner to increase soil porosity

When polyacrylamide breaks down (as a result of mechanical, thermal, or chemical action), the result is typically ammonia and some form of carboxylic acid -- both of which are naturally occurring substances.

There is some concern that commercially available polyacrylamide may contain, or break down into, the neurotoxin acrylamide. However it is believed that this is either highly unlikely, or the resulting quantities are too small to cause adverse health effects.

To avoid microbeads, avoid these ingredients

According to the 5 Gyres Institute, a research and advocacy group focused on policy changes to clean up the oceans, if you want to avoid products with microbeads, this is what you should check for:

  • polyethylene
  • polypropylene
  • polylactic acid (PLA)
  • polystyrene
  • polyethylene terephthalate

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