Wednesday July 17, 2019

New York to Curb Sale of Single-use Plastic Bag

The New York City fee had also been opposed by some in the State Assembly, dominated by Democrats, who worried that the fee would act as a regressive tax on poor consumers

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Microplastics, plastic, trash
A volunteer shows plastics retrieved from the ocean, after a garbage collection, ahead of World Environment Day, on La Costilla Beach, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Rota, Spain. VOA

New York State lawmakers are close to enacting a sweeping ban on single-use plastic bags from retail sales in an effort to curb pollution and changing a way of life for millions of New Yorkers.

The measure was initially proposed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last year, but he failed to get it passed by the then-Republican-controlled state Senate.Democrats won control of the chamber in November mid-term election.

It would be the second statewide ban, after California, which banned bags in 2016. Hawaii also effectively has a ban in place, since all the state’s counties bar such single-use bags, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

New York’s ban, which would begin next March, would forbid stores to provide customers with single-use plastic bags, which are non-biodegradable and have been blamed for everything from causing gruesome wildlife deaths to thwarting recycling efforts.

The ban, expected to be part of the state’s budget bills that are slated to be passed by Monday, would outlaw the use of single-use plastic bags at most stores, but would allow certain industries to continue using them.

Restaurants would still be allowed to use bags for takeout and newspapers would still be delivered in them. The proposal would also allow individual counties to opt-in to a 5-cent-per-bag fee for paper bags in an effort to encourage consumers to bring their own reusable totes.

Microplastics, plastic, EU
Plastic bottles and other plastics, including a mop, lie washed up on the bank of the River Thames in London, Britian. VOA

“These bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways,” Cuomo said in a statement, adding that the proposal would “protect our natural resources for future generations of New Yorkers”.

State Senator Todd Kaminsky said: “I think we’re going to look back and wonder why this isn’t something that was commonplace before now. But I’m glad we’re doing it now and leading the way in being one of the first states to do it.”

Supporters of the plan said that such a two-pronged approach – paper and plastic – was necessary not only to limit the flow of litter into the state’s streets, streams and oceanfront, but also to minimize the greenhouse emissions caused by their production.

Also Read- Air-polluted Cities On Increase In Asia, Coal Addiction Puts Chokehold

The ban will also mark an evolution for Cuomo, who in 2017 signed a bill that killed a New York City law that would have imposed a 5-cent fee on plastic bags.

The New York City fee had also been opposed by some in the State Assembly, dominated by Democrats, who worried that the fee would act as a regressive tax on poor consumers.

As outlined, however, the plan to allow counties to avoid fees on paper bags would seemingly address those concerns, the New York Times said. But that provision also left some environmental advocates disappointed as they say that by not mandating a paper-bag fee, many people will simply use paper bags instead of reusable bags. (IANS)

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Measles Cases in US Continue to Rise, With Most New Cases in New York

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports outbreaks in 24 states

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Measles Cases, US
FILE - Measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are seen in a cooler at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, New York, March 27, 2019. VOA

Federal health officials report 41 new cases of measles across the U.S. last week, bringing the number of total cases for the year to 880 — the highest number recorded since 1994.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports outbreaks in 24 states, with only the very Deep South and Northern Plains spared.

The CDC says outbreaks in several states, including California, Georgia, Michigan and New York, are linked to travelers who are suspected of bringing back the virus from countries with large measles outbreaks, such as Israel, the Philippines and Ukraine.

The CDC recommends vaccinations for everyone older than 12 months, except those who already had the disease as children and have become immune.

Measles Cases, US, New York
Federal health officials report 41 new cases of measles across the U.S. last week. Pixabay

The virus has spread among school-age children whose parents have chosen not to vaccinate them. Parents who do not vaccinate their children often cite religious beliefs or the concerns the vaccine may cause autism or other health problems, despite scientific studies that have debunked such claims.

The World Health Organization says parents who refuse to inoculate their children against such diseases is one of the top 10 threats to global health.

The measles vaccine, first available in the 1960s, is considered safe and effective by most public health experts, who say that it also can save lives.

The measles virus is highly contagious and is spread primarily by coughing and sneezing.

Also Read- Ukraine’s New Leader Gets Sworn In, Immediately Dissolves Parliament

It is still a common disease in many parts of the world. It was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000 with only a handful of cases reported in the U.S. most every year since then.

Last week, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released an update on measles activity in the Americas. It said 12 countries have reported cases in 2019: Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, the U.S., Uruguay, and Venezuela. (VOA)