The committee will review a local law prohibiting the sale of personal cosmetic products containing microbeads in Chautauqua County. The law is similar to one also recently enacted in Erie County.
Microbeads are small – some times microscopic – plastic particles found in personal care products such as soaps and exfoliates. When used in a home, they enter the wastewater systems and eventually find their way into regional waterways, including Lake Erie – which has shown to have one of the highest concentrations of microbeads anywhere in North America.
Committee Chair George Borrello of Irving says the proposed ban makes sense, even though some have argued it should be dealt with at the state level, not the local level.
“There’s two parts to this ban. Number one – we can do something that is going to be effective in reducing the microbeads that are currently flowing into the lake every day. Number two – by passing a ban on the sale [of these products] I’m hoping to send a message to Albany that they need to address this issue.”
Last month Fredonia State professor Dr. Sherri Mason gave a presentation to the committee about the damaging effects that microbeads have had on the ecosystem.
Also during last month’s meeting, representatives from the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) questioned some of Dr. Mason’s findings, while also saying that any band should come from the state level and not the local level in order to ensure uniformity for companies that make the products. They also submitted for the record a memo detailing their concerns regrading the Dr. Mason’s research, as well as the proposed ban.
County Clerk Larry Barmore also said his office would incur a larger cost enforcing the ban, although Borrello feels there could be alternative enforcement methods that didn’t involve added cost to government.
If the committee passes the law, it will go to the County Legislature for its consideration. If the legislature approves the ban, it would then have to be subject to a public hearing before being signed by the county executive.
The Planning and Economic Development Committee begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday on the third floor of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville and is open to the public.