Cleaning Up the River Friendly Way

What is a river friendly product?

River friendly products are products that have limited negative side effects on the water quality and biological life of the Potomac River, its tributaries, and the Chesapeake Bay.

The cleaning and bathing products that wash down our showers, sink drains or toilets affect the health of the Potomac. Although water treatments plants remove many chemicals from wastewater before releasing it back in to the river or preparing it for human consumption, overuse or improper disposal of these kinds of products can affect water quality. By using river friendly cleaning and bathing products and using them properly, fewer toxins will enter the Potomac, lessening their effect on its water quality.

What are microbeads?


Microbeads are actually tiny particles of plastic that are typically 0.5 to 500 micrometres in diameter and are used in hundreds of personal care products, including toothpaste, shaving cream, shower gel, and exfoliating scrubs. These micro pieces of plastic have a tremendously negative effect on the biological life of the Potomac. Sewage treatment facilities are not designed to filter these tiny plastic particles from wastewater so some microbeads will still be present in the water leaving the treatment plant. What’s more, microbeads are not biodegradable and are mistaken for food particles by various wildlife. These beads attract persistent organic pollutants, toxic chemicals that adversely affect human health and the environment, to their surface through chemical bonding. This attraction means microbeads can show up in the food chain, leading to human consumption of these toxins – as well as tiny particles of plastic. Yuck.

Three states, Illinois, Ohio, and New York, are leading the way to ban microbeads from products within their states and throughout the nation. What can you do to help? Don’t buy products with microbeads and contact your elected officials and encourage them to consider introducing legislation that will ban microbeads.


For more information, please visit these resources:

Non-toxic cleaning products:

· US Environmental Protection Agency

· Cleangredients

· St. John’s Riverkeeper

· Heron River Watershed Council



· Beat the Microbead

· 5 Gyres