Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature

Ban on Microbeads Protecting Great Lakes Introduced by Legislator Styk

Press ReleasesTom MorriseyComment

Legislator Dorothy Styk (D – Perinton, East Rochester) today introduced a bill to ban the sale of products containing microbeads in Monroe County.  Microbeads – small plastic balls added to many personal care products as an exfoliant – have been shown to pass straight through treatment systems and into local waters.

“I am the proud mother of two Eagle Scouts, and through Scouting my family learned the value of conservation, preserving the natural splendor of our region for recreation and commerce,” Legislator Styk said.  “This ban will help ensure that the Great Lakes, which contribute so much to our quality of life and to diverse industries like tourism, winemaking and commercial fishing, remain clean and safe for generations to come.”

Once in the Great Lakes, microbeads absorb toxic chemicals like PCBs and DDT, and are then ingested by fish.  As larger animals – including humans – eat lake fish, the toxic substances bioaccumulate at higher and higher levels.

Recent groundbreaking research at the State University of New York at Fredonia, which showed that Lake Ontario has some of the highest measured plastic levels of any body of water on Earth, has prompted local governments to work towards removing microbead products on local shelves.  In late July, the Erie County Legislature passed a ban on such products with bipartisan support, and several large retailers, including Tops and Wegmans supermarkets, have already voluntarily begun removing the products from shelves statewide.  The products, however, still remain widely available.  A state ban stalled in the New York State Senate last year after passing in the Assembly by a vote of 139-1.

“This is an important measure to pass locally in part because the state has not yet taken any action,” Minority Leader Carrie Andrews (D – Rochester) stated. “We should be a leader in protecting our community’s vital environmental resources and this bill will help us do that.”

The legislation will be considered at the September 29th meeting of the Agenda/Charter Committee of the Monroe County Legislature, currently scheduled for 5:45 p.m.  If you wish to speak on behalf of this legislation, contact the Clerk of the Legislature at 753-1950.

(Note: the original version of this release stated that Agenda/Charter would be meeting Wednesday at 5:30, its normal day and time.  The committee meeting was rescheduled by the majority on Friday the 25th.)