Daily News Archives
From April 22, 2005

New York City Council Passes Two Pesticide Risk Reduction Bills
(Beyond Pesticides, April 22, 2005
) On April 20, 2005, the New York City Council passed two citywide pesticide bills. One reduces pesticide use on city-owned property, through prohibition of some of the most hazardous pesticides. The other bill opts the city into the state’s Neighbor Notification Law, requiring prior notification when pesticides are applied by commercial applicators. While the bills are not perfect and have minor loopholes, environmentalists are very pleased with the recent actions of the City Council.

“These bills put New York City at the forefront of the national effort to move pest control in a new direction, away from poisons and towards prevention,” said Laura Haight, senior environmental associate at the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). “Whole generations of children in New York City have been exposed to pesticides that the EPA subsequently banned because they were unsafe. Fortunately, there are safer and smarter ways of controlling pests that are more effective and far less harmful than using toxic chemicals.”

Intro 329, introduced by Council Members Jim Gennaro and Christine Quinn, requires City agencies and contractors to reduce their use of toxic pesticides on property owned or leased by the city. It prohibits the use of pesticides that are acutely toxic, and those that are known or suspected to cause cancer or developmental disorders, unless the City Health Department grants a waiver.

Intro 328, also introduced by Council Members Gennaro and Quinn, opts into the state’s Neighbor Notification Law, which requires commercial pesticide applicators to provide 48-hour advance notice to adjacent neighbors before spraying lawns, shrubs and trees with harmful pesticides. Seven counties in New York State have already opted into the law, which was enacted in 2000, including Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland.

“New York City tops the charts for pesticide use statewide,” Ms. Haight said. “New York City is one of the nation’s first, and certainly the largest, cities to take concrete steps to eliminate its use of the most toxic and harmful pesticides. These two bills are a major step forward in reducing the risk to New Yorkers of harmful pesticide exposure.”

Earlier this year, more than 30 doctors, community groups, and local and state health and environmental groups signed on to a letter supporting these bills. Because the state law preempts local governments from regulating private pesticide use, the City is limited in what it can do to address the enormous amount of pesticides used here.