Connecticut’s Historic Pesticide Legislation Threatened by IPM Bill
Anti-Pesticide Activists Ask for Support at Feb. 22 Hearing
The state that made pesticide history in 2005 may roll back its protection of children if a new bill supported by the chemical industry is successful.
Bill 5155 — “AN ACT MODIFYING THE BAN ON PESTICIDE APPLICATIONS ON SCHOOL GROUNDS” — is sending shock waves through the environmental and health community that has worked diligently to keep the original bill intact in the past several years.
“The new bill is designed to undo the Connecticut state statute that bans the use of pesticides on school grounds grades K-8,” said Nancy Alderman, president of Environment and Human Health Inc., a Yale-based organization that has conducted and published studies concerning pesticide toxicity. “The state of Connecticut worked for years to protect our smallest school children from many different toxins, including pesticides. Pesticides are one of those toxins that have been well documented as having the ability to cause harm to health — especially for small children. Pesticides are designed to kill living things — whether those things are unwanted plants or unwanted insects.
Children are also living things — and that is why the state has said in the past that it will protect our smallest children form pesticide exposures while they are in our schools.”
In the years since the original bill was introduced by state senator Ed Meyer, a robust natural lawn industry has sprung forth in an around Connecticut. Numerous groundskeepers have adapted practices that allow for the maintenance of excellent playing fields — yet the synthetic chemical industry has never stopped lobbying the legislature to roll back the protection to include “integrated pest management.” IPM allows for synthetic chemical pesticides at the discretion of the licensed applicators.
“The pro-pesticide strategy is to call the elimination of the pesticide ban ‘Integrated Pest Management,’ but what it really stands for is business as usual,” said Dr. Jerome Silbert, a pathologist from Connecticut. “If this bill (5155) passes it will be a major setback for the protection of young children from involuntary exposure to toxic lawn pesticides.”
Connecticut’s law has served as an inspiration in New York, which enacted a similar ban on lawn pesticides around schools in 2011, as well as other states that have considered school pesticide bans including, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Rhode Island. Passage of Connecticut’s bill was attributed, in large part, to EHHI’s publication titled Risks from Lawn Care Pesticides.
“This was well thought out and well explored law by all parties,” said Alderman. “The state should not roll this law back because industry and SOME grounds keepers would like to use pesticides again under the guise of Integrated Pest Management. When IPM has been mandated in other states it has proven to be unenforceable — because it allows pesticides — and once pesticides are allowed one cannot tell how much or how many times they are used. IPM has not proven to be a workable method when mandated for schools.”
Alderman, Silbert and others are asking supporters of the original school pesticide ban to make their voices heard at a hearing in Hartford at the state house this coming Wednesday, Feb. 22, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Testimony and letters of support can also be emailed to Allison Blancato, clerk of the Planning and Development Committee at Allison.Blancato@cga.ct.gov.