Legislation designed to prevent exposing children and adolescents to harmful lawn care pesticides has cleared an important hurdle in the Senate. The "Safe Playing Fields Act" (S- 2610), co-sponsored by New Jersey State Senator Jennifer Beck (R- Monmouth/Mercer), prohibits the use of certain pesticides that have been shown to cause long term neurological, reproductive, and developmental disorders. It was favorably referred from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on June 16, 2011.
"Chemicals used to eradicate pests and weeds on playing fields are known to cause chronic long-term health problems when prolonged exposure occurs in childhood or adolescence," said Senator Beck. "These pesticides are routinely used at facilities that are virtually inescapable for children. We now know the health risks associated with exposure to these substances, and with alternative pest control and lawn care products readily available there's really no reason to continue the use of products that can have severe consequences for young people."
Beck pointed out that several Monmouth County communities have voluntarily discontinued the use of these chemicals. "Forty-two towns and school districts in New Jersey have already acted to stop the use of pest and weed control products that are harmful to kids. In Monmouth County, Colts Neck, Tinton Falls, Oceanport, Neptune, Asbury Park, Keyport, Hazlet, Red Bank, and Manasquan have all implemented the use of natural or organic products."
According to the United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), developing organs and immune systems give children an increased susceptibility to chemicals commonly used in traditional pesticides and lawn care products. Specifically, these chemicals can interfere with a child's endocrine system, which is highly vulnerable until fully developed.
Americans use more than a billion pounds of pesticides each year for household, institutional, and industrial purposes.
The Safe Playing Fields Act is the primary 2011 legislative priority for the New Jersey Junior League.
"The Junior League has been an indispensible part of this effort, providing both useful research and advocacy work to this bill," Beck stated. "They should be congratulated for bringing the bill this far, and I remain optimistic that their efforts will result in a signed piece of legislation this year."