(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2008) Rockland County, NY legislators passed a bill on June 17, 2008 to eliminate the use of toxic pesticides on all county-owned or leased land. Rose Marie Raccioppi, the community organizer behind the bill, is a member of Beyond Pesticides, the National Pesticide-Free Lawn Coalition, and Orangetown’s Environmental Committee. She brought her concerns about pesticide exposure to the Rockland County Legislature last year, and advocated strongly for the passage of the Rockland County Non-Toxic Landscape Maintenance Act.
“This is the beginning of what is hoped to be a continuing campaign,” Ms. Raccioppi said. “We hope it moves from county to towns to school districts and eventually, the consciousness of the individual homeowner.” As the law currently stands in New York, and most other states, municipalities may not pass legislation regulating the use of pesticides on private land and buildings, reserving governance of such matters to the state government. However, towns and counties throughout the U.S. (See Daily News of April 15, May 12, May 13, and June 16, 2008) are passing regulations restricting the use of pesticides on publicly-owned land. For a list of these local policies, please visit Beyond Pesticides’ Tools for Change site.
The bill embraces what they have called non-toxic pest management (NPM) practices, characterized as “a problem-solving strategy that prioritizes a natural, non-toxic approach to turfgrass and landscape management without the use of toxic and synthetic pesticides. It mandates the use of natural, non-toxic, or, as a last resort with EMC approval, least toxic cultural practices that promote healthy soil and plant life as a preventative measure against the onset of turf and landscape pest problems.” The bill, however, does allow for exemptions to these laws in the case of tick control, poisy ivy and poison oak control (when it poses a health hazard), and rodent control in the form of baits.
In Canada, provincial governments are taking action to ban cosmetic use of pesticides completely (for examples, click here). This has caused Home Depot in Canada to announce the stoppage of sales of toxic pesticides in its Canadian stores.
While towns, cities, and counties in the U.S. currently lack the legal ability to regulate homeowners’ decisions about lawn care, legislation such as the Rockland County bill provides an important opportunity to educate homeowners and encourage them to adopt least-toxic alternatives on their own.
Source: The Journal News