(Beyond Pesticides, January 2, 2013) As the medical community weighs in, the new year begins with a push in New Jersey to adopt the Safe Playing Fields Act (S1143 / A2412), straightforward common sense legislation to remove children from harmâ€™s way by stopping hazardous lawn pesticide use on school grounds. The billâ€™s sponsors, state Senators Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) and Robert Gordon (D-Bergen) â€“who moved Senate Bill 1143Â Â through the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee with unanimous support in December, are seeking a full Senate vote this month. The bill prohibits lawn pesticides on playing fields of child care centers and schools, kindergarten through eighth grade.
On December 14, 2012, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wroteÂ a letterÂ to legislators in support of the legislation, citing the recent policy position and technical report that AAP released last year. In its letter, the AAP chapter said:
“The NJ Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) represents 1650 pediatricians. The national Academy is a professional membership organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical sub-specialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. AAP recently issued a policy statement and technical report, Pesticide Exposure in Children (see attached); the past decade has seen an expansion of the evidence showing adverse effects after chronic pesticide exposure in children. The strongest links between pesticides and health effects to children involve pediatric cancer and adverse neuro-development. However, low birth weight, preterm birth, congenital abnormalities, cognitive deficits and asthma at times are pesticide-induced.”
The New JerseyÂ Safe Playing Fields ActÂ passed the same committee in 2011. Organizers in the public health and environmental community will emphasize medical support for eliminating childrenâ€™s exposure to pesticides, while industry continues to cite EPA standards as adequately protective of children. The New Jersey Green Industry Council, which represents the lawn care and chemical industry, has stated that, â€śNobody is arguing that these arenâ€™t toxic substances, but what we donâ€™t agree on is that there is, in fact, a lot of testing and training with these products.â€ť This stands in contradiction to the findings of the AAP, which concluded in a December 2012 article in its magazine Pediatrics, that, â€śChildren encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity.â€ťÂ This is not the first time that the medical community has warned public officials and the general public that the hazards of legal and common pesticide use under EPA standards is not adequately protective of the publicâ€™s health. In 1997, the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association (AMA) said, â€śParticular uncertainty exists regarding the long-term health effects of low dose pesticide exposureâ€¦Considering [the] data gaps, it is prudent â€¦ to limit pesticide exposures â€¦ and to use the least-toxic chemical pesÂticide or non-chemical alternative.â€ť See Medical Community takes a Stand on Pesticides in the Fall 2012 issue of Pesticides and You.
The New York Safe Playing Fields Act was signed into law in May 2010, precededÂ by Connecticutâ€™s school playing field pesticide ban (P.A. 09-56).
For information on starting the new year off right with an organizingÂ campaign in your community to stop hazardous and unnecessary pesticide use and adopt organic practices, please contact Beyond Pesticidesâ€™ information program at firstname.lastname@example.org or see our Tools for Change webpage.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.