Environmental-health advocates and the lawn-care industry are divided over what supporters say is one of the most restrictive lawn-care measures in the country—a nearly complete ban in Connecticut on chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides on elementary and middle school grounds.
The new legislation extends a previous bill passed in 2005 that banned the use of such lawn-care chemicals on preschool and elementary school grounds. The new restrictions go into effect in October, although the chemicals will be allowed for use on playing fields until July 2009. Schools will be expected to taper off use of chemicals on those fields over the next few years.
“This is a landmark piece of legislation that will reduce our most vulnerable population from the toxic effects of lawn-care pesticides,” said Nancy O. Alderman, the president of the North Haven, Conn.-based Environment and Human Health Inc., a nonprofit environmental research and advocacy group. “It is incredibly important for our children’s health.”
While the bill received overwhelming support in the legislature—it passed in the state House on a 140-9 vote and unanimously in the state Senate—not everyone is pleased.
“It’s a terrible bill passed for reasons that are unsubstantiated by any data,” said Dick Tice, the executive director for the Cheshire, Conn.-based Connecticut Grounds Keepers Association, a statewide trade organization for landscapers and lawn-care personnel. “If they’re properly used, there is no evidence that pesticides pose any danger at all to kids, pets, or the environment.”
According to Mr. Tice, industry officials pushed unsuccessfully for a compromise on the lawn-chemical ban—tougher regulations for integrated pest management, or IPM. Under this system, schools would be required to try other methods of lawn care before resorting to chemicals, and parents would be notified 72 hours before any chemical spraying.
For now, Connecticut is the only state to enact such a sweeping ban, but other states may follow. Rhode Island has a similar bill in its legislature. Liberty Goodwin, an advocate of the bill, is the director of the Providence, R.I.-based Toxics Information Project, a nonprofit organization that researches and distributes information about toxic products.
A version of this article appeared in the June 20, 2007 edition of Education Week