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
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
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