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(38th DISTRICT) – Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) on Tuesday touted legislation that would protect children from exposure to potentially harmful pesticides at schools, playgrounds and recreational fields.

“We all can appreciate a well-kept lawn, but not at the risk of exposing children to harmful pesticides. Parents have enough things to worry about; sending their children to school should not be one of them,” said Wagner. “Aside from home, school is where children spend most of their time. This bill would ensure their health is not compromised while in school.”

The bill (A-3782) would prohibit the use of lawn care pesticides on the grounds of any school, except as an emergency response to an immediate health threat, as determined by school officials, in consultation with the local health officer.

The bill, which will be known as the “Safe Playing Fields Act,” would also prohibit the use of these pesticides on playgrounds and recreational fields, and on the grounds of any child care center, except as an emergency response to an immediate health threat. It would also restrict child access to pesticide treated areas for at least seven hours after the pesticide has been applied.

Any pesticide labeled, designed, or intended for use on lawns, gardens, turf or ornamental plantings would be prohibited under this bill. The bill excludes low impact pesticides. The bill applies to all public and private schools under college grade.

“Children are especially vulnerable to pesticides because of their small bodies and developing systems. We’ve seen cases requiring hospitalization,” said Wagner. “This bill would eliminate the risk of exposure.”

In addition, the bill would direct the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, to adopt rules and regulations concerning pesticide application, record keeping, and staff and parental notification procedures at child care centers with the goal of mitigating potential health risks to young children.

According to the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, studies of pesticide harm point to everything from elevated rates of childhood leukemias, soft tissue sarcomas aggressive tumors, and brain cancers to childhood asthma and other respiratory problems. In a 1987 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, children whose parents used pesticides in their homes and gardens were seven times more likely to get leukemia.