By Tia Auger
HB 399 is a step in the right direction towards a healthier,
environmentally sound, and sustainable future. While there are many
positive aspects to this bill, it still has room for improvement, and much
stricter regulation would be ideal in the near future. I support this bill as is,
although it could be improved with some revision.
One of the most hope inducing parts of this bill is its sponsor, Jim
McConnell. It is encouraging that a republican representative is supporting
this bill. Pesticide restriction is stereotypically dismissed by conservatives
who believe regulation is unnecessary, and difficult for business. It is
misunderstood that technology alone will solve environmental issues
without any push such as regulation to do so. In their 2016 platform the
republican party stated,
We firmly believe environmental problems are best solved by giving
incentives for human ingenuity and the development of new
technologies, not through top-down, command-and-control regulations
that stifle economic growth and cost thousands of jobs.
Yet, it has often been seen that businesses are capable of quickly
rebounding and updating technologies without job losses or upsetting the
economy, and regulation is the fastest way to induce change. The economy
relies on resources provided by the environment. The economic system of
unlimited growth is simply impossible in a finite world where the actions of
industry cause a positive feedback loop where mass amounts of resources
are used in ways that ultimately destroy more resources. Putting health
before business is also best for the long term health of the economy, and
does not just benefit the modern 1%.
If the bill passes, it would be another recognition of the dangers of
pesticides in law. This is why companies such as Monsanto have already
taken notice of it, and are testifying against it.
Pesticide companies are reliant on the general public being naive to the
health and ecological impacts of pesticides, or there would be public
uproar. Because so many of the products used today are harmful to human
health, unless there is a large scientific push or regulation many are willing
to dismiss the danger because they, “...will already get cancer anyways.” It
is absolutely deplorable that citizens are exposed to such health risks so
commonly, and HB 399 is the first of many steps towards a healthier
society. This bill is easy for even skeptics to support because no one wants
to endanger children who are obviously the most at risk due to their
developmental stage and their interactions with lawns. We do need to value
human life at all ages as well.
While the bill is a good step forward it could use clarification, and
better notification systems. Several positions within local government are
given responsibilities that need further detail. There should be detailed
rules regarding what can be considered an emergency warranting pesticide
application. If the town board of health does not agree with the purpose of
this bill, any small issue could be considered for pesticide application. Those
in charge of this should also be provided an educational course or reading
material to learn more about safe pest management and the health effects
of pesticides. The notices would also be much more effective prior to
pesticide use so it may be effective to require pesticide sprayers to post
signage in case those responsible for providing notice to citizens were
unable to before pesticides were sprayed.
HB 399 would be a great addition to New Hampshire legislation that
would truly be for the people. At the very least it was able to spark a
conversation and educate people on the negative health effects of practices
so common they go unnoticed. As Rachel Carson states in
Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid
surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our
enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent
insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite
By Dorothy Arroyo
House Bill is a bill that would stop pesticides from being used in areas
where children play. I am in support of this bill because of its hazard
preventative measures to ensures the health of children. Those who oppose
this bill think it's unnecessary and unwise because children are exposed to
pesticides in other settings and their risk to experience pest related harm
could be heightened. I want to highlight the hazard I believe pesticides hold
and how valuable it is to limit use around children.
Pesticides are a hazard in the sense that they are made to kill in a
short amount of time. Former Pediatric Doctor J. Routt makes the
comparison that both pesticides and HIV aim to kill t-cells. T-cells help
serve the immune system, and without their function leads to illness and
death. Of course, pesticides effectively eliminate pests. High dose-response
tests on rats show that pesticides kill rats. Though pesticides at low doses
can't kill humans, pesticide poisoning can still occur. What we have yet to
find out it is how low dose-response
over time affects humans.
Doctor Routt worked with children as his patients for over 30 years.
He saw and is familiar with what pesticide poisoning looks like.
Furthermore, he has seen what chronic pesticide poisoning has turned into.
Children who are exposed to pesticides early on experience asthmatic
symptoms, developmental delays, and immune system disorders. Keep in
mind children can be exposed to pesticides before they leave the womb.
Those who argue limitation of pesticides is unnecessary is putting children's
health at risk. Pesticides are poisonous and harmful, and the more we can
prevent exposure, the better for the long-term health hazards.
In the short-term regular pesticides decrease the presence of harmful
insects and rodent. This protects children from insect and rodent related
wounds and allergic reactions. However, there are safer options than
pesticides. Organic pest management practices are thought to be expensive,
but over time saves money for the community. Use of natural oils and
irrigation of dirt is as effective as poisonous pesticides and the latent
ingredient are not made specifically to attack immune systems and kill
House Bill 399 is a step towards avoiding causing harm to children.
The bill will not eliminate all risks and exposures to pesticides, however it
will lessen the direct exposures starting at a young age. There is not a
whole lot we know about pesticides and how they will affect us inn 30 years.
What I do know is it's unnecessary to poison children starting from a young
age, only to be the cause of permanently damaged and weakened immune
systems. I support House Bill 399 because it's a bill that will help prevent
future harm to humans. Pesticides may not be the number one harm to
humans, but there is no evidence that says it's helping human health.
Statements made by representatives of the pesticide industry have sought to obfuscate the purpose of HB 399. HB 399 deals exclusively with lawn care pesticide use where children play. The bill seeks the reduction of pesticide use on school grounds, athletic fields, playgrounds and the grounds of day care centers. The bill does not address agricultural applications or pest management inside buildings.
HB 399 addresses the toxicity concerns raised by pediatricians and, in fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As the EPA notes, “Children spend more time outdoors on grass, playing fields, and play equipment where pesticides may be present.” The EPA also points out that, “Children’s hand-to-mouth contact is more frequent, exposing them to toxins through ingestion.” As I have discussed throughout the hearings on HB 399, pesticides are designed to kill things which crawl in the grass. Minimizing children’s exposure to pesticides is the sole purpose of HB 399. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated “Epidemiological evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive functions and behavioral problems.” In arguing the case in support of HB 399, I have only become more convinced that HB 399 is an important step in protecting New Hampshire’s children from pesticide related health problems.
Tomorrow, the committee will hear from Dr. Routt Reigart, a pediatrician with the American Academy of Pediatrics and co-author of EPA’s Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings (6th edition). If you continue to have doubts about the benefit this legislation will have on New Hampshire children’s health, I encourage you to listen to and question Dr. Reigart.
At the committee’s last Work Session, a pesticide industry representative also discussed a lawsuit and court decision in Maryland. This lawsuit is a state matter between Maryland and one of its counties. The only question addressed is whether a local jurisdiction has the authority under Maryland law to adopt legislation that restricts pesticide use on private property.
The replacement of toxins for natural practices and products is a growing trend in both the public and private sector. Green Industry Pros website notes that 40% of contractors now offer an organic-based lawn care service. Policies that protect children from toxic pesticides applied to school grounds have been in place since 2007 in Connecticut and 2010 in New York State. Over 150 jurisdictions in the US have implemented policies that restrict toxic pesticides on their publicly owned property. Most of Canada also has policies reducing the use of toxic pesticides. Here in New Hampshire last week, the city of Portsmouth passed a resolution restricting toxic synthetic pesticide use on town owned property.
HB 399 is reasonable, targeted legislation which produces high quality lawns, saves money and water and, most important of all, protects the health of New Hampshire’s children.
James W. McConnell
New Hampshire State Representative
Sponsor HB 399
No school or school administrative district shall apply pesticides or cause pesticides to be applied to school grounds, including playing fields and playgrounds, unless the school has an integrated pest management plan in place and filed in accordance with rules established by the Pesticide Control Board. Any application of pesticides must be consistent with the Integrate Pest Management Plan.
Any application of pesticides to school grounds must be publicly noticed in advance in accordance with the rules established by the Pesticide Control Board.
Any application of pesticides must be reported to the Division of Pesticide control, and the report must provide, at a minimum, the following information: Identitity of pesticide applied, including both the active ingredient and the label name and manufacturer; amount of application; location of application; time and date of application. The report must be filed with a time period as established by the Pesticide Control Board, but not to exceed seven days. A publicly accessable data base of all applications to school grounds shall be maintained by the Division of pesticide control.
The use on school grounds of any pesticide with an E.P.A signal word of Warning or Danger, or with established carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or endocrine disrupting properties shall require a detailed explanation of why a lower risk pesticide can not be used instead, and shall require prior authorization by the Pesticide Control Board.
Below is the text of a letter written by Representative Jim McConnell and sent to the House Committee on Agriculture and Environment. Dated September 11, 2017
I believe HB 399 is consistent with the principles of Integrated Pest Management.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is not a uniformly defined term, particularly in the area of allowed toxic substances and criteria for their use. However, taking the definition as outlined in the Pesticide Board’s booklet, requirements include recommendations for prevention, inspections, identification, monitoring, and management with pesticide use as a last resort (pg. 10). It clearly states that “If non- chemical steps don’t work, use the least-harmful pesticides to manage a pest problem” (pg. 24). HB 399 simply codifies this approach as applied to lawn care by defining what those least-harmful pesticides are - as the Pesticide Board’s booklet does not specifically define these least harmful products - when non-chemical methods fail. HB 399’s definitions are drawn from both the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Agriculture.
Green Shield Certified, operated by the IPM Institute of North America which certifies pest management providers in IPM, defines the term as “a proven, cost-effective strategy to combat pest problems without unnecessary pesticide use. By correcting the conditions that lead to pest problems and using approved pesticides only when necessary, IPM provides more effective pest control while reducing pesticide use.” However, as with the Pesticide Board’s booklet, the IPM Institute’s list of allowed pesticides is not defined in a way that eliminates the potential use of toxic pesticides that threaten children’s health. HB 399 thus fits within this definition of IPM by defining approved pesticides which are not harmful to children’s health. This is the core of the legislation - the understanding that toxic pesticides should not be sprayed where children play unless it is determined by a designated health official to be necessary to protect children’s health. Through the emergency provision, HB 399 establishes when these pesticides are indeed necessary. That being said, I am open to your ideas to amend the emergency provision. In that regard I believe it would be helpful to talk with physicians and toxicologists should you wish to refine the criteria for when the use of pesticides is warranted.
HB 399 does not interfere with the ability of school or day care officials to control pests inside and around buildings. An amendment to the bill, which I submitted during your initial hearings, clarifies that any restrictions in pesticide use will only apply to lawn care pesticides - defined for the purpose of controlling lawn, garden or ornamental plant pests, also referred to as the cosmetic use of pesticides. HB 399 is about management decisions over the cosmetic appearance of turf, not whether to control rodents, wasps and other pests which endanger public health.
Adoption of HB 399 will improve the health of lawns and soil, reduce reliance on pesticides and the need to water lawns. While eliminating the effects of pesticides in soil may require a transition period where costs increase slightly, technological advances in the industry now often achieve cost parity with conventional landscaping from the outset, and see additional long term savings once a healthier soil system is in place. Most important of all, it will be an important step in reducing children’s exposure to toxins.
Representative James W. McConnell
Sponsor HB 399
The State's Pesticide Control Board has written a letter in response to the draft of HB 399. The letter was written on May 16, 2017.
The letter starts off with a clear statement of opposition to the bill, which they say would, "eliminate certain pesticide use."
The letter goes on to say that the Board is a legally constituted authority that directs the activity of pesticide regulation in the State of New Hampshire and that they are dedicated to minimizing people's exposure to pesticides.
The Board explains that HB 399 is unnecessary because there already exists adequate protection for children in current regulations. The main thrust of the letter seems to be that HB 399 does not consider existing regulations and programs. The Board furthermore states that there have been no studies that reveal a need for further protection of children from pesticides.
One of the most interesting parts of the letter asserts that HB 399 might do more harm than good. It states:
House Bill 399 will not only cause significant disruption to a long-established, successful and effective program, but likely will result in unintended consequences limiting the ability of schools and recreational facilities to protect children from certain pests and maintain healthy environments for children.
Their argument appears to be that, by strongly limiting the application of pesticides, HB 399 actually may end up exposing children to harm from pests, and that this harm may be greater than the harm associated with pesticides.
The letter goes into considerably more detail. A copy of it is is available here.
Written by Thomas Webler 8/3/17
Students and faculty from classes on Environmental Governance and Environmental Law at Keene State College are the authors of these posts. We also invite guest authors when appropriate.
NH Science for Citizens
Department of Environmental Studies
Keene State College
Keene, NH 03431
A project of students and faculty at Keene State College in collaboration with local NH state representatives.