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Source: WIVB Buffalo

Erie microbeads ban could start next year


Posted: July 22, 2015
Originally Published: July 20, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — By the start of next year, stores in Erie County will be fined if they’re caught selling products containing microbeads.

That is, if a county bill is approved by the legislature when it’s presented July 30 and subsequently signed into law by the county executive. And sponsors of the bill, say they already have the votes they need to make this ban a law.

Microbeads are found in some face and body scrubs and some toothpastes and deodorant.

They’re getting through sewer systems and dumping into Lake Erie and other bodies of water because treatment plants aren’t built to filter them out.

Across the state, 19 tons of microbeads are washed through sewer systems. In Erie County alone, officials say 1,700 pounds of microbeads are washed down the drain each year.

Legislator John Mills says 90 percent of plastic pollution in Lake Erie is made up of microbeads.

“It lays in the lake, and it could be picked up by walleye, by carp, you know, all of our game fish, and then ingested by whoever eats the fish,” John Mills, R-Orchard Park, co-sponsor of bill. “It’s just not right. It does not belong in our water.”

Although the state failed to act, environmentalists say Erie County can and should lead the way.

“I think that Erie County can really set the tone and drive the state to take action,” said Brian Smith, associate executive director for Citizens Campaign on the Environment. “Erie County is a critical first step in addressing this problem. We live right on the shores of Lake Erie so it’s incumbent upon us to band micro beads to protect our local waters. But ultimately our action here in Erie County can help the state, drive them, to banning them as well.”

If it’s supported in legislative committee this week, the bill would be presented to the full legislature on July 30. County Executive Mark Poloncarz could then sign the bill into law after his own public hearing. The project could take six months before it’s able to be enforced by the county’s weights and measurements department at the beginning of next year.