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Montgomery County, Md., Bans
Pesticide Use on Lawns

Effective July 1, 2016

In a 6-3 ruling, Montgomery County, Md., has banned pesticide use on county-owned and private lawns. Effective dates will be phased in starting July 1, 2016.

On October 6, the Montgomery County Council approved amended Bill 52-14 that bans the use of pesticides on county-owned and private lawns, becoming one of the few jurisdictions in the nation to have such restrictions.

One of the amendments to the original bill will allow the county's Department of Parks to continue to use pesticides on playing fields as part of an integrated pest management program and requires the department to develop a plan that would lead to maintaining fields without pesticide use by 2020. The department will conduct a pilot program in the interim period to study the impact of maintaining fields without using pesticides.

The enacted bill provides for a phasing of effective dates, with provisions related to county-owned property and county parks taking effect July 1, 2016. On a motion by Council Vice President Nancy Floreen, the bill was amended to have provisions related to private property taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018 (rather than the originally proposed Jan. 1, 2017).

In addition to lawns, the bill also restricts the use of certain pesticides on public and private playgrounds, mulched recreation areas, and children's facilities such as child care centers. The bill's restrictions do not apply to gardens. They do not restrict pesticide use for the control of noxious weeds or invasive species, for human health or agricultural purposes or to prevent significant economic damage.

In addition to restoring the restriction on the use of certain pesticides on both County-owned and private property, the approved bill substantially clarifies the method of determining which pesticides are subject to the restriction.

The National Pest Management Association made the following comments on the restrictions in their weekly newsletter:

"NPMA members worked together with a large pesticide industry coalition to defeat this ordinance and unfortunately the outcome was not the desired objective of the coalition. Ordinances, laws and regulations that restrict the use of pesticides are never ideal for our industry, but it is important to note that this ban pertains specifically to lawns and not structural pest management use patterns. Specifically the ordinance permits the use of pesticides on public and private property to:

-Control disease vectors
-Control biting or stinging insects
-Control indoor pests if applied around or near the foundation
-Control a pest outbreak that poses an imminent threat to human health or prevent significant economic damage.

NPMA will continue to fight against the enactment of pesticide restrictions while highlighting the important use patterns of the structural pest management industry."

The National Association of Landscape Professionals released the following statement:

"There is no evidence that the pesticide ban the Montgomery County Council will yield tangible benefits for the community. Scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency, credentialed professionals, among the tops in their field, have long guided the appropriate use of lawn care products, and other materials. As such, the professional landscape industry continues to rely on the results of the science and research provided leading authorities in their service to customers. Montgomery County's decision only reinforces the critical work of landscape and lawn care professionals, who have the tools, training and expertise to partner with consumers and design lawn care programs that incorporate EPA-regulated products, organic solutions and/or integrated pest management techniques that will meet their specific needs. Industry professionals have been - and always will be - committed to creating and maintaining healthy outdoor spaces for the benefit of society and the environment."

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October 17, 2019, 6:33 am PDT

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