Modified: September 30, 2015 3:15pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz (seated at table) is flanked by environmental advocates and Erie County legislators as Erie becomes the first county in NYS to enact legislation prohibiting the sale of microbead-containing products.
Erie County Was First in State to Approve Protective Measure Supported By Environmental Advocates
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz is urging elected officials from Monroe County to consider legislation that bans the sale of products containing microbeads, continuing a statewide movement to stop the spread of harmful products that pollute our water supply.
As part of the efforts by Poloncarz’s administration to encourage other counties to pass similar local laws, the county executive has sent a letter to Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks urging her to support the proposed local law that was referred to her earlier this week by the Monroe County Legislature after a legislative liaison representing Poloncarz addressed that legislative body.
“My letter to County Executive Brooks reinforces the need by elected officials throughout the state to take action on microbead legislation,” said Poloncarz. “The response to our legislation here in Erie County has been positive as my office has not heard from any business owner or local distributing company indicating that banning microbeads would cause a detriment to their business. Microbeads have an impact on us from an environmental, health and economic perspective and have been proven to negatively impact our waterways."
Erie County’s legislation is being viewed by other local governments as a template for proposed local laws across the state, including Chautauqua County, where the Chautauqua County Legislature passed a similar ban and Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan has indicated he will sign it into law after the requisite notice and public meeting period has passed.
Microbeads are a synthetic alternative ingredient to such natural materials as ground almonds, oatmeal and pumice and are added to over one hundred personal cosmetic products, including shampoos, toothpastes and body cleansers. These synthetics pose a serious threat to the environment after they are rinsed down household drains and eventually pass through wastewater treatment facilities to enter local waterways, collecting and spreading pollutants and harming fish and other aquatic life.
Erie County Legislature’s local law was the first piece of legislation to be approved in the state to address the growing environmental issue. Poloncarz remains hopeful that other counties currently studying the issue and the negative long-term effects microbeads have on the Great Lakes watershed will pass similar local laws.
“I believe there are certain moments were the leadership of those elected to office are defined and that is why I am urging County Executive Brooks to stand with me and stop the spread of these toxic plastics,” said Poloncarz. “Our legislation passed unanimously with bi-partisan support, which I believe shows the importance of this issue. The danger these products present to our health can no longer be ignored, especially when you consider that microbead legislation has stalled in both Albany and Washington, D.C. Action is needed at the local level and we must continue the positive momentum we have by having other municipalities join the statewide movement to preserve a cleaner environment for generations to come.”