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Daily News Archives
From January 13, 2005

Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Proposed in Suffolk County, NY
(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2005)
Lawmakers in Suffolk County, New York are proposing a law that would ban use of dangerous pesticides on lawns. Resolution 2102, introduced by Legislator Jay Schneiderman (R-Montauk), would prohibit the use of known carcinogenic pesticides for cosmetic purposes. There will be a hearing on the bill later this month.

According to The Independent, the bill allows licensed applicators to continue to use the chemicals for two years before they are phased out. Those who sell the chemicals will be required to post lists of the regulated pesticides, with compliance monitored by the County Health Department.

Historically, pesticide regulation is the domain of the state level Department of Environmental Conservation. In fact, Schneiderman has actually worked with State Assemblyman Fred Thiele in the past to ban carcinogenic pesticides. Bills that Thiele backed passed the State Assembly, but were later killed when they reached the State Senate. “The agri-chemical lobby is enormous and very powerful,” Schneiderman said this week. “For four years, the bills never got out of committee. They never are going to get out of committee. That’s why I’m doing this.”

Scheiderman additionally points out that laws can be passed on a local level since this is a public health issue. “The studies the [Suffolk County] Health Department has conducted in the past have repeatedly shown that the number one groundwater contaminant in the county is pesticides,” he said.

"The state empowers counties to make public health decisions," Schneiderman said. "We're talking about acute human toxins."

The bill states that Suffolk has "several documented, yet unexplained, cancer clusters, as well as a breast cancer rate above the national average.”

Many toxic lawn chemicals are associated with cancer, birth defects, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, liver and kidney damage and acute health effects. These chemicals are unnecessary. Currently, there is a plethora of safe and effective alternative lawn care options that homeowners can choose from.

Despite serious health concerns and the existence of safe alternatives to pesticides, industry groups are putting up a fight against laws that would protect residents from carcinogenic pesticides used for cosmetic purposes. Elizabeth Seme, executive director of the New York State Turfgrass Association (NYSTA) says the organization is tracking developments on this and other bills around the state, according to Landscape Management.

"We get about 120 bills a year and we don't take any of them lightly," Seme said. "When you get down to the county level, there's a lot more chance these issues can erupt. At the state level there's more balance. But on Long Island, they have a mind of their own down there."

Read more about the industry attack on environmentalists and health advocates here.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your local representatives and call for an end to cosmetic pesticide use in your community. Use information on lawn chemical toxicity and alternatives from our Lawns & Landscapes “Tools for Activists.