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


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. 

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester, where she was recognized for her work by the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association and the New York State Humane Society. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.
Sasha-Ann Simons joined the team at WXXI News as a Multimedia Reporter/Producer. She most often tells stories about the innovation economy and technology in upstate New York as part of a journalism collaborative, and is a fill-in host and regular contributor to WXXI-TV's weekly news magazine program, Need To Know.
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