New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Toxic Pesticides in Parks Would be Limited by Council Legislation

New York, NY— Pesticides in parks would be limited by a bill announced today by Council Member Ben Kallos among members of the kindergarten and first grade class at PS 290, who first advocated for the city legislation. The law, co-sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, would require that the city use only biological pesticides, derived from natural materials, instead of synthetic, traditional pesticides--except under necessary circumstances. The EPA maintains that biological pesticides tend to be less toxic and safer than synthetic pesticides. The bill will be introduced on May 27.

In addition to often being less toxic, biopesticides are often more narrowly targeted to eliminate the desired pest, rather than affecting a broad range of organisms. According to the EPA, they are also often effective in small amounts and quickly decompose, making less of an environmental impact than synthetic pesticides. 

The City’s most heavily used liquid herbicide is Roundup, which they sprayed 1,365 times in 2013, according to a Health Department Report. Studies have indicated that Roundup is particularly harmful to childrens’ health, and the EPA moved this month to limit Roundup because it creates resistant weeds. Chicago has reduced pesticide use dramatically, and now 90% of its parks are pesticide-free.

Council Member Kallos was first inspired to limit damaging pesticides in City parks after hearing from the students at PS 290, who expressed concerns over the toxicity and health effects on both humans and animals.

"Parks are for safe play, not pesticides," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "All families should be able to enjoy our city parks and resources without having to worry about what chemicals are being used. I look forward to working with all of our city agencies to limit unnecessary, toxic pesticide use."

"Chemical pesticides threaten the health of children, pets, and the environment, and there's no reason to use them in our parks when there's a natural, safer alternative. Residents in my district contact me regularly with serious concerns about Roundup, and I am proud to co-sponsor this bill with Council Member Ben Kallos," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

"With the help of our Councilman, our students see the impact they can have on our city and our world. This is something they will never forget and will stay with them for a lifetime," said Principal Doreen Esposito of PS 290.

“New Yorkers for Parks has always supported policies to promote public health and public use of open space,” said Tupper Thomas, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks. “We are in favor of any effort to keep people who use our parks safe.”




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