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No Pesticides on School Playfields

In 2005, Connecticut became the first state to ban the applications of synthetic weed killers around schools and daycare centers in grades K-8. The new Connecticut law extends the ban to include pesticides on grass or playing fields on the grounds of any public or private preschool or public or private school with students in grade K-8.
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Public and private schools in Connecticut that have children in eighth grade or lower will no longer be able to use pesticides on their grass or playing fields, so says the new state law that took effect July 1, 2010.

The law, which the Conn. General Assembly passed this winter, expanded the prohibition of pesticides on school grounds to the playing fields. The law, however, does allow pesticide use to eliminate "an immediate threat to human health."

Some state school districts didn't wait for the law to implement a no pesticide policy. Newtown School Superintendent Janet Robinson told that her district has been free of pesticides for about three years. "We knew it was inevitable," she said. Before the new law, the school districts were required to keep a list of students whose parents wanted to be notified whenever a pesticide was used on school grounds.

Superintendent of Schools for Bethel, Conn., Gary Chesley, said his school district took steps three years ago to eliminate pesticides, but when pesticide were used, they followed safety regulations to the letter.

Nancy Alderman, president of the advocacy group Environment and Human Health, said it's taken years to pass a provision in the pesticide bill to extend the prohibition to the full school grounds and playing fields.

"It's important that the park and recreation departments that take care of the fields, and for PTAs that monitor what goes on in schools to know about the law,'' she said. "This is ground-breaking legislation."

The New York State Senate has also approved a bill banning pesticides on school playgrounds and ball fields. The measure still needs approval from the governor and Assembly to become law. The Assembly previously passed a similar bill, so the two chambers must agree on a reconciliation bill.

Alderman called this a model law that town leaders could apply to town properties. She said she's not opposed to pesticides in emergency situations, but for the most part pesticides have been used for cosmetic purposes. "Anyone who doubts the viability of this (ban) should visit the Cheshire High School fields and see for themselves. All Cheshire fields are organic and they are gorgeous," Alderman told the local media.

Connecticut Department of Education spokesman Thomas Murphy said there are alternatives to pesticide use, and that "all sectors are moving in that direction."

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October 15, 2019, 5:23 am PDT

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