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
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
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NH Science for Citizens
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Keene State College
Keene, NH 03431
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