1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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 all.
  4. 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  Examples include DDT and the recently withdrawn Dursban.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Liability issues relating to pesticide use are a growing concern, as more and more incidents of children injured by pesticides are being recorded. 
  9. 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?
  10. 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 employment.





  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The state has no real interest in prohibiting stronger environmental and health measures in individual towns, which may have specialized local situations that justify such ordinances. 
  5. 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.

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?  Contact Liberty Goodwin, Director, Toxics Information Project (TIP),

401-351-9193 OR LIBERTY@TOXICSINFO.ORG  For more on lawn & school pesticide concerns, see:  www.toxicsinfo.org/playingfields.htm and www.beyondpesticides.org/schools/publications/school_pirs.htm

Follow-Up 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:




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 insecticides.”


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,


Liberty G
Liberty Goodwin, Director
Toxics Information Project    
P.O. Box 40441, Providence, RI 02940
Tel. 401-351-9193, E-Mail:  liberty@toxicsinfo.org
Website: www.toxicsinfo.org