by Nick Tolman
As our society continues to grow technologically, it can be hard to admit that some of the
things we do to protect our friends and family may be harming them instead. Pesticides have
become a point of interest in the past decade or so because we are realizing the long-term health
effects of being exposed to them. In an attempt to reduce pesticide usage in fields near children,
who have much weaker immune systems and are more likely to me harmed by them, house bill
399 was submitted into the process of approval by NH house representative Jim McConnell. The
bill would restrict pesticide usage to only emergency applications, meaning only when it was
necessary to treat the grass for fungi or other potentially harmful pests. It doesn’t mean no
pesticide use at all, which I think is an important point that many people are missing. Pesticides
will be used no matter what, the bill would just like to reduce the frequency so that children with
susceptible immune systems are exposed less often.
I believe that this is a great bill. Children should be protected from harmful substances whenever
possible. Pesticides do prevent harmful pests, but at the cost of exposing children and parents to
chemicals that are designed to kill. I think the main worry of this bill is that somebody must be in
charge of deciding what pest or fungi might be dangerous enough to treat. It means somebody
has to comb through the grass consistently to make sure nothing is forming or intruding in the
field. Also, that person has to have enough knowledge about pests to know what is or isn’t an
emergency. Not treating the correct pest could put anyone on the field in harm’s way. What I
don’t know and what most people don’t know is whether constant pesticide exposure is worse
than one incident of poison ivy or something of that nature. Poison ivy goes away after a few
weeks, the health effects of pesticides could last your entire life.
The best option is to just use pesticides when they are absolutely necessary. If we don’t know
that they are completely safe, then there’s no way that we can know that they aren’t dangerous.
Reducing our exposure is the smartest plan until more tests can be done that look at long-term
issues. The bill doesn’t completely get rid of pesticides, which would be much more
unreasonable because of the pests that need to be treated in the grass. It would also be impossible
to pass because of all of the money and influence that pesticide companies have. At some point,
big corporations producing pesticides need to stop and think about what their products could be
doing to the future leaders of our country. Children are far more important to the country’s future than a few million dollars in a big corporation’s pocket. This bill could potentially save many children from having health issues due to pesticide exposure in the future.
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
Keene, NH 03431
A project of students and scientists in collaboration with local citizens and NH state representatives.