UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — One of the Upper East Side's representatives in the City Council introduced a new bill that would ban city agencies from using toxic pesticides and herbicides in city parks.
Legislation introduced by Council Members Ben Kallos and Carlina Rivera, who represents several Lower Manhattan neighborhoods, would bring New York City up to speed with several other cities and countries around the world that have banned the spraying of pesticides such as glyphosate, Kallos said. Glyphosate is the pesticide sold in the controversial product Roundup and has been classified as a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
Despite the known dangers of glyphosate, city agencies sprayed the pesticide on 1,365 occasions in 2013, which accounted for half of the city's pesticide usage that year, according to city Department of Health studies.
Kallos and Rivera's bill would prohibit any city agency from using substances like glyphosate and other pesticides and herbicides classified as toxic by the EPA and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The two council representatives are calling the bill the most far-reaching legislation to regulate pesticides in the city.
"Parks should be for playing not pesticides," Kallos said in a statement. "All families should be able to enjoy our city parks without having to worry that they are being exposed to toxic pesticides that could give them and their families cancer."
Kallos added that he doesn't allow his newborn daughter to play on the grass in city parks out of fear that she may be sickened by pesticides.
The legislation would force city agencies to switch from synthetic pesticides to biological pesticides made from naturally occurring chemicals. These natural pesticides are generally accepted as less toxic and break down more rapidly, the bill's sponsors said. In addition to banning pesticides in city parks, the bill would also prohibit spraying pesticides within 75 feet of a body of water.
The bill is similar to regulations in Chicago, where 90 percent of city parks have been pesticide free since 2014, the bill's sponsors said. In addition to introducing the legislation, Kallos and Rivera sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking him to place a moratorium on pesticide spraying while the bill goes through the City Council.
The bill is currently being considered by the council's committee on health, according to legislative records.