WATCH: Scientist hopes Erie County microbead ban will inspire other municipalities to act

Aug 24, 2015

Professor Sherri Mason

Cosmetic products containing small plastic beads are now banned from being sold in Erie County.

The measure was signed into law this week, following a unanimous vote by that county's legislature in July.

Microbeads are found in products such as facial scrubs and lotions and even toothpaste. On an ingredient label they are listed as polyethylene, polypropylene, or acrylates co-polymer.

(Video after the jump.)

The tiny plastic particles are a problem because they are so small that they flow through the filters at wastewater treatment plants and into the Great Lakes and other waterways.

The microbeads are not toxic themselves, but scientists say they absorb chemicals from the water and enter the food chain when they're ingested by fish.

Sherri Mason, PhD, a professor of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at SUNY Fredonia, has researched the effect microbeads have on the environment, and she has been closely following these legislative developments.


Listen to an interview with her by clicking the audio link above.