A new bill in New York could ban the use of pesticides on school grounds and athletic fields. Many schools in the state currently use pesticides on athletic fields to kill bugs, pests and weeds. But environmental advocates have been lobbying for years to discontinue this practice based on scientific studies showing that exposure to pesticides can increase children’s risk for cancer, exacerbate asthma and trigger seizures.
The bill coming up before the New York legislature would ban pesticides, herbicides and fungicides on playgrounds and athletic fields in public and private schools and at day care centers. It's nothing new really — similar bills have been presented to the Senate nine times before. They have all died on the floor.
Not surprisingly, chemical companies are pressing lawmakers to vote against the bill, saying that pesticides are highly regulated and safe to use. They also claim that schools could be liable if school grounds and athletic fields become infected with pests that could in turn hurt a child.
Still, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, children are especially susceptible to pesticides because of their small size and still-developing organs. And chemical pesticides and herbicides are not the only way to green a field. Rather than a purely chemical approach, the EPA recommends schools use Integrated Pest Management, which combines several more organic and less toxic techniques to manage pests and weeds, such as overseeding, mowing grass taller, watering less and applying “compost tea,” a liquefied form of compost.
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