Cattaraugus County could soon become the latest community to ban personal care products containing microbeads. The tiny plastic beads can pass through sewage treatment plants and into open water. They have been found in fish that have been used for human consumption.
Cattaraugus County Legislator William Sprague told WBFO he's confident there will be sufficient votes to impose a ban. Lawmakers have set an Oct. 14 public hearing on the proposal. Sprague said local leaders recognize the urgency in taking action.
“They have become aware of how devastating it is to the environment and our lakes and streams and also it doesn’t deteriorate, it doesn’t dissolve. It’ll be there forever," he said.
Erie County took the regional lead on the campaign against microbeads when it imposed stringent regulations that ban products containing the beads. Chautauqua County is considering a similar measure.
Sprague cited data indicating that more than 8 trillion microbeads are dumped into United States waterways every day. He said such pollution can lead to unclean drinking water, an unhealthy food supply through fish consumption and the flow of contaminated water into smaller waterways.
“We in the Northeast here have one of the most pristine water sources in the United States...Someday, water will be more precious than gold, because you’ve got to have it.”
Assuming the ban is approved, retailers in Cattaraugus would have 180 days to sell the remainder of their products containing microbeads or face fines of up to $2,500.