"Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogencity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system. Of those same 30 lawn pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, 23 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 24 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 11 are toxic to bees, and 16 are toxic to birds."Yet, egged on by the chemical companies, we continue to needlessly spray our lawns, playing fields and schoolyards. What will it take for us to realize this insanity, especially in regard to our children, whose developing brains and bodies are especially vulnerable to toxins?
Not all is bleak, though. A year ago, New York State, led by former Governor David Patterson, passed the Child Safe Playing Fields Act, which bans the use of synthetic pesticides on the playgrounds and playing fields of all of the state’s public and private schools and day care centers.
While the act went into effect last November for day care centers, the ban at schools starts next Wednesday (May 18). Similar bills, all vehemently opposed by the chemical interests, had been defeated on nine previous occasions. The passed bill, though, in a concession to guarantee its passage, allows for green areas not used as playgrounds or fields to be sprayed.
For an overview of the states’ policies in regard to pesticide use at schools, click here to read a 2010 report from Beyond Pesticides. No state has a law that completely protects our children, yet several states—New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts—have decent policies.
But shouldn’t banning all pesticide use in and around schools be the default national policy?