(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2010) The environmentally friendly ladybug is alive and well in Ocean Township, New Jersey, thanks to a newly adopted Township resolution that declares parks, playgrounds, and fields as “Pesticide Free Zones;” requires Township property to be managed with Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a program that manages and prevents pests using environmental information, with a focus on non-chemical pest management methods and tools (sanitation, mechanical, biological and, as a last resort, “least toxic” chemicals) that are least likely to impact human health or the environment. The Township’s goal is to eliminate the use of pesticides, while encouraging citizens to do the same.
According to Ray Pogwist, Chair of the Ocean Township Environmental Commission, the IPM policy for the township identifies key sensitive areas like the village parks to be managed without harmful chemical pesticides. These areas will be posted with a sign indicating that chemical pesticides have not been applied to the site.
“Ocean Township’s action reinforces their commitment to protecting parks and open spaces and reducing its pesticide use,” said Jane Nogaki, program coordinator for NJ Environmental Federation (NJEF). “Since IPM is now the law on all New Jersey school grounds, it makes perfect sense to try to expand it to all public property as well. I am pleased that when residents and visitors use the parks, they will not be exposed to pesticides. That was always important to me when my children were small,” said Ms. Nogaki.
The Township of Ocean joins 38 other communities, and is one of six communities in Monmouth, which have designated Pesticide Free Zones (PFZ) in parks including Asbury Park, Colts Neck Hazlet, Neptune, Wall, East and West Windsor, Irvington, Newark, Manasquan, Ocean City, Pine Beach, and the counties of Burlington and Cape May.
Many scientific studies indicate that pesticides threaten the public’s health by increasing the risk of cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, and reproductive problems. These chemicals can also poison animals, pollute local streams and rivers and seep through the ground into underground aquifers. Every body of water tested in New Jersey has evidence of pesticide contamination, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Children are especially sensitive and vulnerable because of their rapid development and behavior patterns. Currently New Jersey uses about four million pounds of pesticides annually for lawn care, mosquito control, agricultural production, and golf course maintenance.
“We especially want to protect children because they are closer to pesticide applications on the ground, and they are still developing and absorb more pesticides than adults,” said Ms. Nogaki.
Fortunately, alternatives exists that are cost effective and friendly to the environment, simple things like hand pulling weeds, mowing at a height of 3 inches to shade out weeds, mulching areas properly to prevent weeds, planting native plants that do not get insect problems, and reducing or eliminating lawns to cut down on the need for watering, fertilizing and mowing.
“We need residents to do their part in reducing pesticides in our environment and keeping our air, water and land safe from toxic chemicals,” said Mr. Pogwist, chair of the Ocean Township Environmental Commission who brought the PFZ resolution to the attention of the town elected officials. “Residents can participate by making their own property a ”˜Pesticide Free Zone.’”
Ocean Township manages the Colonial Golf Course, Community Pool and Tennis Facility, Joe Palaia Park, Oakhurst First Aid & Fire Company Memorial Fields, Wanamassa Firemen’s Memorial Park, Dave Dahrouge Park, and Wayside Park.