An article in yesterday’s edition of The Buffalo News caught my attention. Living near the Lake Ontario shore as I have for going on 60 years, I am especially concerned about the health of the Great Lakes. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand how desperately other parts of the country need water. We cannot take for granted how blessed we are to have all that fresh water at our fingertips.
It appears that those little plastic beads that companies put in their facial and body scrubs are harming our beaches and lakes when they pass unaltered from our bathroom sinks and through the wastewater treatment process out into the open water. Ontario and Erie are the most affected of the Great Lakes. Whereas organic materials either bind or settle in wastewater effluent or succumb to the system’s biological controls, the plastic microbead does not.
These insidious little things (the size of a grain of salt) first enter the food chain through consumption by fish and wildlife, then pass on to humans who eat the fish and game. If you eat fish or game hunted or caught in and around the Great Lakes, you risk poisoning from the plasticizing chemical that enhances the beads’ flexibility. Never mind the poor animals that eat them in the first place.
My home state, New York, actively fights against plastic pollution, and I am especially pleased that the New York State Assembly recently passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act. Passage by the New York State Senate will ensure that the danger posed by plastic microbeads is addressed quickly.