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Source: Ithaca Journal

Tompkins County Bans Microbeads, Passes 2016 Budget


Posted: November 19, 2015
Originally Published: November 17, 2015

Hanna Ring.

Hanna Ring

With the support of about 10 members of the public, who appeared at the meeting Tuesday, the Tompkins County Legislature voted in favor of banning products with microbeads from the shelves of Tompkins County stores. There will be a six-month transitional period to educate local retailers and give them time to clear their inventory.

The tiny plastic spheres, most commonly found in some kinds of toothpaste and face wash, have been shown to work their way into local waterways. Several members of the public attested to the fact that they were recently found in Cayuga Lake.

“Plastic microbeads were designed to wash down the drain, and a study by the New York State Attorney General shows that they are bypassing sewage treatment plants,” said Hanna Ring who is the Central New York Program Coordinator for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Studies show that when fish and aquatic life consume microbeads, the attached toxins transfer to their tissue. The toxins then bio-accumulate up the food chain with humans being susceptible to the greatest accumulation of toxins.”

The resolution passed unanimously, and Don Ellis, the sole member of the Tompkins County Weights and Measures Department, will be in charge of conducting store inspections to make sure the products are no longer sold once the six month grace period ends. Those found to be in violation can be fined up to $2,500 per day.

The Legislature also passed the 2016 county budget at a 1.01 percent increase in the levy, which means a $12.39 raise on the tax bill of a $170,000, median-value home in Tompkins County. The levy falls under the state tax cap. “We’ve made it under the cap three times in the last five years, and we have not cut services,” said Legislator James Dennis, Chair of the Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committee. “We’ve maintained services to a fairly high level in the county, and I think we’ve done a really fine job.”