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Letter: New York needs to ban microbeads in cosmetics

New York needs to ban microbeads in cosmetics

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s report rightly identifies microbeads as a serious and growing risk to the environment (April 20 News). Microbeads, tiny plastics used as abrasives in many cosmetic products, pose a threat to the environment, with high concentrations found in Lake Erie.

Microbeads are so small that they wash down the drain and are not captured by water treatment facilities. As a result, they end up in waterways across New York and the nation and have been found in high quantities in every stream, river, lake, estuary and ocean across the planet. Not only do these microbeads never biodegrade, but they collect and retain chemicals in the water, which then end up in the food chain through meals like fish.

Microbeads in cosmetic products are easily replaceable. Some companies have taken it upon themselves to phase them out over time by replacing them with natural biodegradable alternatives, but this is not enough. Instead of washing plastic down through our sewer systems, microbeads must be banned.

Luckily, there is legislation under consideration in Albany to do just that. If you care about the quality of Lake Erie and other waterways, contact your legislators and tell them to support the Microbead-Free Waters Act.

Julia White

NYPIRG Project Coordinator at SUNY Buffalo State

Alex Bornemisza

Vice Chair, NYPIRG board of directors