Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions

Pesticides and Children’s Health Still Don’t Mix

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In 2007, Connecticut passed the first statewide ban on using turf pesticides on playing fields (grades Kindergarten-8). The ban sent a bold message to Scott’s, DuPont and the rest of the nation that children’s health is far more valuable than market shares and corporate profits.

It’s now unlawful for any school or their groundskeepers to expose CT’s children to harmful chemicals where they learn and play. In 2010,  New York State followed suit and passed the Child Safe Playing Fields Act; a law that took what Connecticut did three years earlier and developed a comprehensive natural turf policy that  included high schools and day care facilities.

Since then, school districts throughout NY and CT have demonstrated effective pest management without the use of toxic pesticides.

And yet, the pesticide industry and their allies remain diligent and work to undermine those efforts in CT.  They use front groups and consulting firms to convince lawmakers that natural turf care is ineffective, and to scare school districts into thinking their fields will deteriorate, leading to injuries and lawsuits.  These arguments ignore science and yet the industry has been successful in creating so much controversy over the issue, that legislators have even fought to roll back Connecticut’s ban numerous times in recent years. Still, every bill introduced to date, which would repeal CT’s K-8 pesticide law or water it down to allow the use of certain pesticide products, has either been held in committee or died from inactivity.

The good new is that Maine, New Jersey and Maryland have all taken steps to advance this important issue, introducing their own legislation prohibiting the use of chemical pesticides on school grounds.  In Connecticut, new bills in the Education and Children’s Committees this year would expand the current law to protect high school students in grades 9-12.

Finally, after years of debating, it’s beginning to look as if lawmakers are starting to understand that sound science trumps the interests of corporate lobbyists.  Now it’s up to the rest of the states to take a step forward with children’s health, and leave the pesticides behind.

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