WHY RI SENATE BILL S560, BANNING LAWN CARE PESTICIDE
ON SCHOOL & DAY CARE GROUNDS, SHOULD BE PASSED
- It is generally agreed that
children are far more susceptible than adults to these chemicals. They are smaller, and their systems
less developed. They crawl and
roll around on the grass, and sometimes put stuff in their mouths.
- There are studies showing
serious health effects to kids linked with pesticide exposure, including
higher rates of leukemia and other cancers, growing rates of asthma,
neurological and behavioral conditions.
- The EPA makes it clear that
there is no “safe” pesticide. In
fact, it is illegal to make claims of safety about these products. The vast majority of synthetic
chemicals are only minimally tested – by the manufacturer, not the
government. Many are not tested at
- Time after time, pesticides
originally hailed as benign have turned out after years of use to be
deadly to human health and the environment. Examples include DDT and the recently withdrawn Dursban.
- Our children should not be
guinea pigs on whom we try out new, “safer” chemicals, especially when no
benefits to human health are involved through their use. (This bill does not apply to products
used for emergencies or human health and safety.)
- Even for cosmetic purposes,
the pesticides addressed by this bill are quite unnecessary. Healthier lawn care alternatives are in
use in many places around the country, including Rhode Island. Gorgeous green lawns existed many years
before the development of these chemicals – consider the estates of the
gentry, in olden days.
- Cost/benefit figures favor
the less-toxic methods. Many have
saved money by using less synthetic lawn chemicals. One school district actually reduced
their budget by 40 per cent while reducing pesticide use by 90 per cent.
- Liability issues relating to
pesticide use are a growing concern, as more and more incidents of
children injured by pesticides are being recorded.
- Although schools are
presently required to attempt the use of IPM (Integrated Pest Management),
the term is vague and subject to very different interpretations. This has often resulted in kids’
exposure to unacceptably toxic applications. Is it really appropriate that safety and health decisions
about children’s exposure to chemicals should be made by minimally trained
pesticide applicators instead of informed regulation?
- The bill will not have any
adverse effect on the lawn care industry in the state. It will not result in the loss of any
work or jobs. It will provide the
same rules for everyone. Moreover,
there is research showing that pesticide applicators suffer from greater
rates of some cancer and other health conditions linked to their
SENATE BILL S302, AUTHORIZING CITY AND TOWN COUNCILS TO ADOPT ORDINANCES
RESTRICT THE USE OF PESTICIDES FOR COSMETIC CARE OF LAWN AND TURF, SHOULD PASS:
- The preemption clause
presently in state law interferes with the rights of the people of Rhode
Island to protect themselves, their children, their homes and drinking
water from toxic chemicals.
- This clause is of no benefit
to anyone but the chemical companies, that pressed for its passage some
years ago in 30 states, feeling that regulation of their products would be
weaker if local communities had no power or say in it.
- The bill would not prevent
use of pesticides in cases of risk to human health – it does not allow for
bans on responses to West Nile Virus or other insect-borne hazards.
- The state has no real
interest in prohibiting stronger environmental and health measures in
individual towns, which may have specialized local situations that justify
- The bill would not allow for
less strict regulation by any town – ordinances would have to be at least
as strong as those of the state DEM.
In no case would the people of RI be less safe than they are now –
only more protected.
to Questions Raised at Hearing on S769 & S302
Thursday, April 7, 2005
Dear Senator Sosnowski,
Thank you for your fair and open handling of the testimony
presentations at yesterday's hearings on the lawn pesticide bills, S769 &
S302.I fear that in my concern not to take up too much of the committee's time,
I was inadequate in covering the many points I wished to make - I hope that committee members
will read and consider my full written testimony. In particular, I hope they
will read my proposed list of allowed and prohibited pesticides to be added to the
bill. Someone expresseda concern, for example that milky spore would
be banned by the bill - that is certainly not intended.
A major problem in addressing these bills is that there is
so much evidence - it is difficult to cover it briefly. For example,
if you access the site listing pesticide incidents in schools around the
country, there are 40 such reported (and counting). :
I also have additional heart-rending stories from or about
individuals and families whose health and lives have been devastated by
pesticide effects. Several may be found
at our website: http://www.toxicsinfo.org/Lawn/One%20Family's%20Story.htm
For now, I am attaching three files, in answer to questions
posed by the Committee. One is a history of state preemption of
pesticide regulation, per your request.
For comparison, I've added a description of the almost identical battle
over pesticide by-laws in Canada. (Decided in favor of
the towns by their Supreme Court).
Third is an article about the EPA process that responds to
the committee member who asked, "Why doesn't the EPA ban these pesticides
if they are so harmful? It is, unfortunately, a
10-page document - but the final four pages are just references, and I have
highlighted some of the important paragraphs in the previous six.
Finally, I wish to share with you and the committee the
following in response to those who claimed they "need" their poisons:
DO WE NEED LANDSCAPE PESTICIDES?
Chemical Fertilizers and pesticides on lawns weaken the
grass and destroy the natural balance of microbes and beneficial insect
predators, thus promoting weed and insect proliferation.
“Despite a 10 – fold increase in insecticide use, studies have shown a
proliferation in types of pests from fewer than 10 to more than 300…. Of the 25
most serious insect pests in California in 1970, 24 were secondary pests
(produced because of insecticides) and 73% are resistant to one or more
I believe the handwriting is on the wall - that the movement
away from toxic pesticides and toward safer alternatives has
begun. I urge the committee to at least begin taking steps toward that
desirable outcome.I will be more than happy to respond to any other questions
or concerns you may have.
Thank you again for your consideration,
P.O. Box 40441,
Providence, RI 02940