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Burke Resolution to Ban Plastic Pollution in Lake Erie Approved!



Legislator Burke calls for immediate action to protect area waterways


Today, in the first 2015 meeting of the Energy and Environment Committee, the committee voted to approve a resolution introduced by Legislator Patrick B. Burke that advocates strong support for legislation banning microbeads in cosmetic products in New York State.

“Studies show that the highest concentrations of microbeads are right here in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.  I believe it is up to us to be the strongest advocates for this ban. Microbeads are a serious threat to our waterways and the fish that live in them. We have to act to protect our natural resources from this pollution, because our waterways are the backbone of this region. We can’t afford to wait around for some other level of government to do something about this problem. I intend to look into what more can be done on our level.  If we don’t find a way to act soon, the cost of cleaning up this problem will make the more than 100 million we have spent cleaning up the river ways look small,” said Legislator Burke.

Legislator Burke was joined by area environmental experts, Jennifer Nalbone, an Environmental Scientist with the State Attorney General; Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper; and Lynda Schneekloth, Advocacy Committee Chair, Sierra Club – Niagara Group.

The Sierra Club Niagara Group fully endorses this effort to protect our citizens and our local waters of Lake Erie and the mighty Niagara River.  As we have learned, “microbeads” are tiny beads of plastic less than a millimeter thick that are often added to cosmetics as exfoliates, cleansing agents and even some toothpastes.  Apparently, cosmetic companies found that microbeads were cheaper than non-synthetic alternatives and generate a ‘smoother’ product.  The beads themselves are made of polyethylene or polystyrene and because of their size, can pass through filters in water treatment plants and enter the water system,” Chair Lynda Schneekloth of the Sierra Club testified before the committee.

Chair Schneekloth added, “Their small size resembles that of plankton, the organisms that make up the base of marine ecosystems.  Unknowingly devoured by filter feeders, the plastics migrate up the food chain, bioaccumulating in larger fish, birds and mammals… Despite their size, microbeads are having a huge impact on our waterways amounting to as much as 90% of the new plastic waste in the Great Lakes.”