MAYVILLE – By a vote of 18-0, the Chautauqua County Legislature has unanimously approved a plan to ban the sale of personal care products containing plastic microbeads.
The law is similar to one also recently enacted in Erie County and will go into effect in February, 2016.
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.
Legislator George Borrello (R-Irving) was the sponsor of the ban, saying it is needed to help deal with a growing concern on Lake Erie and other waterways.
“Tonight we truly have an opportunity to make a difference and to have an immediate and significant impact on our environment, on public health, and also on the local businesses that rely on our lakes and waterways,” Borrello said prior to the vote. “The waters off of Western New York are ground zero for the highest concentration of micro-plastic pollution. So passing this law, like that in Erie County, we are taking actions to reverse this trend as soon as possible.”
In August, Fredonia State professor Dr. Sherri Mason gave a presentation to the committee about the damaging effects that microbeads have had on the ecosystem. Following the vote, she was obviously pleased to learn the ban will likely go into effect.
“I’m extremely pleased,” Dr. Mason Said. “I’m proud that the county that I live in chose to take this seriously, and chose to listen to the science, as opposed to the lobby.”
Earlier in the meeting, a representative from the Personal Care Products Council had addressed the local law, requesting the county instead work toward persuading lawmakers in Albany to pass a statewide ban, rather than local ban.
County executive Vince Horrigan says he will likely hold a public hearing on the proposed ban prior to signing it, just in case there are any local residents or businesses opposed to it and who wish to speak out.