It is no secret that microbeads found in some skin care products and cleaning supplies are bad for the environment, but these tiny beads made out of algae and lobster shell help protect coral reef from sunscreen chemicals. Hawaiian lawmakers are attempting to ban a oxybenzone-containing sunblock due to the adverse effect it has on coral. In the meantime, these tiny beads could be part of the solution.
The biodegradable beads are composed of algae and chitosan and also include iron nanoparticles, which enables them to be removed from the water using magnets after they've done their job. The chemical-absorbing structures come from a chemistry lab at the University of Puerto Rico that focuses on eco-friendly methods of cleaning contaminated water.