Microbeads a major problem in L.A. River

Scientist Marcus Eriksen stood ankle deep in the murky Los Angeles River on Friday and dipped a net into the water, looking for a problem.

Eriksen was searching for "microbeads," bits of plastic no bigger than salt grains that absorb toxins such as motor oil and insecticides as they tumble downstream and into the Pacific Ocean.

The tiny polyethylene and polypropylene beads are an emerging concern among scientists and environmentalists. The beads come mostly from personal care products such as facial exfoliants and body washes. They are not biodegradable, however, and because they are not removed easily by wastewater treatment plants, they flow out to sea and enter the food chain.

Read full text in the LA Times