FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In an effort to clean up New York’s waterways, Suffolk County is considering banning the sale of personal hygiene products that contain microbeads.
There’s already a call to ban microbeads in the state, but Suffolk County is poised to vote on a bill that would ban the sale of those products in the county.
Scientific studies show microbeads — which can range in size from a millimeter to as small as a grain of sand — are polluting waterways, including new research that suggests they are present in the Long Island Sound, according to the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
Citizens Campaign’s executive director, Adrienne Esposito, told 1010 WINS microbeads are toxic for the environment.
“These tiny plastic beads act as toxic sponges, and they absorb pesticides and other toxins…Then they end up in the ecosystem. Fish and shellfish eat them, and they end up on our dinner plate,” she said.
Esposito said if Suffolk passes the ban, it will become part of a growing number of counties in the state that have banned microbeads.
“By the end of the year there should be almost a dozen,” she said. “The more counties that ban microbeads, the more likely the New York State Legislature will do it next year.”
The state Senate failed to pass statewide legislation on banning microbeads this year.
Esposito said there are also several alternatives to microbeads in beauty products.
“We need for the industry to stop using these plastic beads, and it’s easily done,” she told 1010 WINS. “They can just substitute them for more safer materials such as apricot shells, walnut shells, salt crystals, sugar crystals. And that would be more biodegradable and more environmentally acceptable.”
Esposito added that some companies have even been voluntarily eliminating the beads from their products.
If Suffolk passes the ban, it will be the third county in the state to do so.