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New Jersey Debating Pesticide-Free Playgrounds

As I write this at 1 p.m. on the final day of January, a committee of New Jersey state senate recommended approval of a bill that, similar to New York and Connecticut, would make pesticides illegal on school grounds. The vote was 5-0 in favor. New Jersey joins Maine and New Hampshire with almost identical legislation now pending.

Here are the details:

The bill (S-2194) known as the Safe Playing Fields Act was introduced in mid-January by Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer). Under the bill, pesticides would only be allowed in emergencies to eliminate “an immediate threat to human health.” For day care centers, the bill would allow pesticides only outside regular business hours, with children restricted from treated areas for at least seven hours after application.

There is an identical bill in the NJ Assembly (A-3621) sponsored by Asm. John F. McKeon, and Asm. Annette Quijano

SYNOPSIS
The “Child Safe Playing Fields Act”; restricts use of lawn care pesticides at certain schools, child care centers and recreational fields.

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
As introduced.

AN ACT concerning lawn care pesticide use at schools, child care centers and recreational fields, and supplementing Title 13 of the Revised Statutes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Child Safe Playing Fields Act.”

2. As used in this act:
“Charter school” means a school established pursuant to P.L.1995, c.426 (C.18A:36A-1 et seq.).
“Child care center” means a child care center licensed pursuant to the provisions of the “Child Care Center Licensing Act,” P.L.1983, c.492 (C.30:5B-1 et seq.).
“Lawn care pesticide” means any pesticide labeled, designed or intended for use on lawns, gardens, turf or ornamental plants.
“Pesticide” means a pesticide as defined pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2002, c.117 (C.13:1F-21).
“Playground” means a playground as defined pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1999, c.50 (C.52:27D-123.9).
“Recreational field” means an athletic playing field, and includes recreational fields within a municipal, county, or State park.
“School” means any public school or private school as defined in N.J.S.18A:1-1.

3. No lawn care pesticide shall be applied on the grounds of any school, including a playground or recreational field located at the school, which enrolls students from preschool through grade five, except that a lawn care pesticide may be applied as an emergency response to eliminate an immediate threat to human health. Such emergency shall be determined by the superintendent of the school district, the board of trustees of a charter school, or the principal or chief administrator of a private school, as appropriate, in consultation with the local health officer.

4. No lawn care pesticide shall be applied on a playground or recreational field, except that a lawn care pesticide may be applied as an emergency response to eliminate an immediate threat to human health. Such emergency shall be determined by the municipal or county governing body in consultation with the local health officer, or by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, as applicable.

5. a. No lawn care pesticide shall be applied on the grounds of any child care center, including a playground or recreational field located at the child care center, during regular business hours, except that a lawn care pesticide may be applied as an emergency response to eliminate an immediate threat to human health. Such emergency shall be determined by the chief executive or owner, as appropriate, of the child care center.
b. No child enrolled at a child care center shall be permitted access to a pesticide treated area for at least seven hours after the application.
c. No later than one year after the effective date of this act, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, shall adopt rules and regulations in accordance with the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), concerning pesticide application, record keeping, and staff and parental notification procedures at child care centers consistent with the goal of mitigating potential health risks to young children by reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides, and by first considering the use of low impact pesticides.

6. This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

This bill, to be known as the “Child Safe Playing Fields Act,” would prohibit the use of lawn care pesticides on the grounds of any school which enrolls students from preschool through grade five, except as an emergency response to an immediate threat to human health, as determined by school officials, in consultation with the local health officer, and would additionally prohibit the use of lawn care pesticides on playgrounds and recreational fields. The bill defines a “lawn care pesticide” as any pesticide labeled, designed, or intended for use on lawns, gardens, turf or ornamental plantings.
This bill also would prohibit pesticide use on the grounds of any child care center during regular business hours and would also restrict child access to pesticide treated areas for at least seven hours after the application.
Additionally, the bill would direct the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, to adopt rules and regulations concerning pesticide application, record keeping, and staff and parental notification procedures at child care centers with the goal of mitigating potential health risks to young children.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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