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NY Assembly Passes Bill To Improve Protection From Pesticides
(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2003) A bill recently passed the New York State Assembly that creates a state urban pesticide board, intended "to investigate the selling and usage of industrial strength pesticides in urban areas, to step up enforcement of existing restrictions on retail sales, and to educate the public about the hazards of using pesticides in the home." Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright sponsored the bill, A01110, which is now in the the New York State Senate as S02095.

A01110,entitled An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to creating the state urban pesticide board and providing for the repeal of certain provisions upon expiration thereof, creates an urban pesticide board, which is required to make a preliminary and final report with recommendations for legislative action. The bill also requires alternative pesticide training.

The bill is in response to numerous reports and studies showing the widespread use of industrial strength pesticides in the urban areas of New York State. According to the bill summary, "More than one quarter of all pesticides reported to be applied in 1997 were in New York City. Manhattan topped the list for pesticides reported in gallons. Brooklyn ranked number one for substances measured in poundage. The Bronx, Queens, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties all appear in the top ten list. Most of these pesticides are extremely dangerous. The majority of pesticides applied consisted of one or two neurotoxic insecticides. Similar to the neurotoxicity associated with lead poisoning, these particular insecticides pose a danger to developing fetuses and to young children. These industrial strength pesticides are also widely available in local grocery stores. Residents are purchasing these toxic products for home use without awareness of the potentially severe health consequences for their children and families."

In August 2002, NY State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer released a report documenting the dangers children in urban areas face from pesticides. The report, Pest Control in Public Housing, Schools and Parks; Urban Children at Risk, found stunning statistics showing a lack of regard for the health and safety of city residents, and a lack of knowledge of pesticide dangers. For example, eight out of ten housing developments surveyed (two in each of five cities) applied pesticides inside apartments and in common areas on a regular basis, rather than limiting application to identified pest problems. This usually leads to excessive and unnecessary pesticide use and exposure. Three parks, one in New York City and two in Yonkers, reported using herbicides for aesthetic, as opposed to public health, purposes. In addition, only two of the 15 institutions surveyed have adopted written pest management policies, even though clear policies are essential to an effective pest control program. Beyond Pesticides covered this story in the August 21, 2002 edition of Daily News.

The NY Assembly has additionally passed bill A05969, which phases out state use of pesticides. In the first phase, no agency in New York State will be allowed to apply any pesticide classified in Toxicity Category I by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or any pesticide classified as a known, likely, or probable human carcinogen. After two more phases, the restrictions on pesticide use become tighter, limiting use of Toxicity II pesticides and restricted use pesticides.

For more information about pesticide news and policies in New York, or your own state, see Beyond Pesticides State Pages.