(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2007) Following the release of a new national report, Ending Toxic Dependency: The State of IPM, environmental and health groups in New York state issued a letter to Governor Eliot Spitzer. In the letter, they requested that the Governor order all state agencies to phase out use of toxic pesticides in favor of less- and non-toxic products. Twenty-six groups signed the statement, which urges Mr. Spitzer to reduce the amount of pesticides used in the state, which, in 2004, included 2.7 million gallons applied by pest-control companies alone.
“We should not be exposing state workers and the public to hazardous and unnecessary chemicals that can cause a range of serious health problems, from asthma attacks to birth defects and cancer, as well as contaminate our air and drinking water,” said Laura Haight of the New York Public Interest Research Group, one of the co-signing organizations. “It’s not rocket science; there are towns and counties and cities across the state doing just this on their own property.” The body of the letter, expanding Ms. Haight’s statement, reads:
Our groups, which represent citizens from across the state, applaud you for your commitment to protecting the environment and public health. We appreciate the work you did as Attorney General to reduce the public’s exposure to harmful pesticides. As Governor, you have the opportunity to make New York a national leader in promoting and implementing safe and effective alternatives to pesticides.As you know, pesticide use poses a significant risk to public health and the environment. Large amounts of hazardous pesticides are used across New York State on a daily basis. Pesticides can contaminate air and water, as well as cause a wide range of acute and chronic human health problems including asthma and respiratory distress, neurological impairment and learning disabilities, immune system damage, many types of cancer, hormone disruption, liver damage, and birth defects.
Effective, non-toxic and least-toxic pest control alternatives exist for virtually all common pest problems. Many local governments in New York have already adopted their own laws to restrict or ban pesticide use on municipal property. These include Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Suffolk County, Westchester County, and numerous others. New York State has an opportunity to reduce the public’s exposure to harmful pesticides, as well as set an example for the private sector, by implementing these practices on state-owned and operated property.
We are respectfully requesting that you issue an Executive Order requiring that state agencies phase out the use of hazardous pesticides and switch to safer pest control alternatives on state property including state parks, state office buildings, and state colleges and universities. The most acutely toxic pesticides and those that are known or suspected to cause cancer, endocrine disruption, or threaten water supplies should be eliminated first.
The letter was signed by: Beyond Pesticides, Cancer Awareness Coalition, Inc., Center for Health, Environment & Justice, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Clean New York, Community Health and Environment Coalition, Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community, Inc., Environmental Advocates of New York, Fluoride Action Network Pesticide Project, Grassroots Environmental Education, Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition, Group for the East End, Hopewell Junction Citizens for Clean Water, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Inc., League of Women Voters of New York State, Long Island Neighborhood Network, New York Public Interest Research Group, New York State Advisory Council on Children’s Environmental Health and Safety, People’s Environmental Network of New York, Prevention Is The Cure, Inc., Quality Quest Coalition, Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides, Sierra Club, and Staten Island Citizens for Clean Air.
According to a spokeswoman, Mr. Spitzer “understands the health and environmental concerns associated with pesticides” and that the Department of Environmental Conservation will take the proposal into consideration.
TAKE ACTION: Urge your state to adopt a strong policy regarding toxic chemical use in the management of state-owned and leased property, including buildings and land. For more information, contact Jay Feldman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-543-5450.
Source: The Ithaca Journal