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Connecticut Town Scraps Pesticides and Goes for Organic Lawn Care
(Beyond Pesticides, June 1, 2004)
The Record-Journal newspaper of Cheshire, CT reports that the town will scrap pesticides for its lawn care projects and go organic. Cheshire is a town of nearly 30,000 in New Haven County. Town Manager Michael Milone said he is not sure just when maintenance crews will make the transition. The town plans to use up the stockpile of pesticide products that it has.

Officials agreed to the switch in conjunction with the Quinnipiac Watershed Partnership's Freedom Lawn Campaign, and as part of the townwide Crusade Against Cancer, started by the town itself after residents identified a cancer cluster there. The campaign is a plan by the watershed partnership to educate the public on water testing and the adverse health effects of pesticides, said Jerry Silbert, M.D., director of the Quinnipiac River Watershed Partnership, an organization of interested citizens, environmental groups, governmental organizations and advisors, and representatives from the business community fostering collaboration among interested parties to protect, improve, and sustain a healthy watershed environment, while encouraging economic and community development consistent with these goals.

"What does it mean?" Dr. Silbert, a physician, said. "Basically, it means a lawn that's free from the use of pesticides."

The Partnership launched the campaign May 27, 2004 at a meeting in Cheshire Town Hall. It hopes to get 100 local households to agree to the switch and will catalog any changes in the lawns.

Cheshire will serve as the test community in the campaign, Mr. Milone said. If people successfully make the switch, the partnership will move the campaign to other towns.

The crusade is an effort to educate residents on healthy lifestyles and ways to prevent cancer. Since chemical products can be carcinogens and can get into drinking water supplies, Mr. Milone said he and others thought making the switch was a good idea and could be a way to encourage others to follow suit.
"If the town government is willing to use organics, it kind of sets a tone for the community," Mr. Milone said.

Health risks from pesticides include neurological disorders and cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Dr. Silbert said. Even ingredients listed on labels as inert can cause adverse effects. Children are susceptible to health risks through small amounts of the products, the physician said.

"Let me put my physician's cap on for a sec," Dr. Silbert said. "You know, it isn't like you walk on your lawn and you get sick the next day. These things take years to manifest."

This and other efforts sweeping the country and Canada have not gone unnoticed by the chemical lawn care industry, which is orchestrating guidelines and point of purchase information that Beyond Pesticides has called misleading and fraudulent. The industry and EPA's message to people in these materials is that compliance with the pesticide product label will ensure adequate protection of human health and the environment and will not incorporate public right to know and information on possible adverse health effects into guidelines. See Beyond Pesticides Daily News.

Contact: Jerry Silbert, M.D., Executive Director, Quinnipiac River Watershed Partnership, 90 Sargent Drive, New Haven, CT 06511, 203-401-2718 (voice), 203-603-4959 (fax), jsilbert@rwater.com.

Source: Sloan Brewster, Record-Journal staff and Jerry Silbert, M.D.

TAKE ACTION: Ask your town/city to adopt organic lawn care and stop using toxic pesticides. For resource information and factsheets, see Beyond Pesticides' website special issues section on lawns and landscapes.