Assemblymember Steven Englebright Praises Governor Paterson for Signing a Law That Will Protect Children in Schools and Daycare Centers from Dangerous Pesticides

May 19, 2010

Assemblymember Steven Englebright (D, Setauket) today hailed Governor David Paterson’s approval of his bill (A 7937-C) that will prohibit the use of toxic pesticides on school and daycare center playgrounds, turf, athletic and playing fields.

Assemblymember Englebright stated “For nine years we have been working to eliminate the unnecessary use of these dangerous poisons in outdoor settings to protect our children from exposure to carcinogens, neurotoxins and other dangerous chemicals! This is a historic moment and the Governor has made it happen with the stroke of his pen.”

Englebright applauded Senator Brian Foley, the Senate sponsor, as well as the Legislative leadership, stating “This could not have happened without the commitment and support of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader John Sampson, as well as Environmental Committee Chairs Assemblymember Robert Sweeney and Senator Antoine Thompson.”

Englebright has championed environmental causes throughout his career in public service. He noted “The President’s Cancer Panel issued its 2008 – 2009 Annual Report in April 2010, focusing on the impact of environmental factors on cancer risk. The Panel was particularly concerned that ‘.the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated. With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential carcinogens is widespread.”’

He continued “One sector of exposure to environmental contaminants that the Panel singles out is the use of pesticides. Many pesticides have known or suspected carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting properties. Almost 900 active ingredients have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pesticide labels list “inert” ingredients, such as solvents, fillers and other toxic chemicals that are not required to be revealed and are not tested for their ability to cause chronic diseases such as cancer. In other words, we have no idea what the actual potential harm from pesticide use is on the human population.”

Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, Pediatrics Professor and Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine stated “Congratulations to Governor David Paterson for his wise decision to sign the Englebright/Foley bill banning the cosmetic use of pesticides on school grounds. The thousands of pounds of synthetic chemical pesticides that are applied every day on lawns, parks, gardens, golf courses and schoolyards across New York State for purely cosmetic purposes include cancer-causing chemicals, chemicals that are toxic to the brain and nervous system, chemicals that can interfere with endocrine function and chemicals that can disrupt the early development of unborn children in their mothers’ wombs. By reducing exposure to New Yorkers, particularly children and pregnant women, this bill will prevent disease, disability and premature deaths and will save millions of dollars in healthy care costs each year.”

Steven Boese, Executive Director of the Learning Disabilities Association of NYS said “Just this week, new information emerged regarding the growing connection between pesticides and learning disabilities and other neurological impairments such as autism. We congratulate Governor Paterson, along with Assemblyman Englebright and Senator Foley for establishing this common sense and cost effective policy. Thanks to their leadership and foresight, fewer New York State children will be exposed to pesticides.”

Kathy Curtis, Policy Director with Clean New York said “We applaud Governor Paterson for signing this bill and are thankful for the leadership shown by the sponsors and EnCon Committee Chairs in protecting children from dangerous pesticides as well as the workers who hands and apply them. We are one important step closer to achieving policies that protect children and workers everywhere from toxic chemicals in all products.”

Claire Barnett, Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network stated “We commend Governor Paterson for his leadership to prevent risks to children’s health and to help schools and child care centers cut costs stemming from unnecessary and unsafe pesticide applications. This is a double victory – for children and for local taxpayers and sets a model policy for other states.”

Albert E. Caccese, Executive Director of Audubon New York stated “We applaud Assemblymember Englebright for championing this critical environmental bill which will save schools money while protecting children and birds from the dangers of pesticides. Each year million of pounds of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are used on schools and lawns across the state and nation, creating one of the largest sources of pollution runoff and causing the death of over 7 million birds annually. By eliminating the use of these chemicals at schools, we are now making these places safe and inviting for birds, other wildlife and children.”

Laura Haight, Sr. Environmental Associate with the NY Public Interest Research Group said “As the evidence mounts about the risks of childhood exposure to pesticides, we are very pleased that the State of New York is taking action to make our playing fields and school grounds a safe and healthy environment for our kids. We commend Assemblymember Englebright and Senator Foley for their leadership, and thank Governor Paterson for signing this measure into law.”

Patti Wood, Executive Director of Grassroots Environmental Education stated “This legislation represents a dramatic turning point in the fifty-year effort to raise public awareness about the potential harm of pesticides and puts New York State firmly out front in the battle to remove toxins from our environment and protect our most vulnerable citizens. Grassroots congratulates and thanks Governor Paterson, Assemblyman Englebright and Senator Foley for their courage and leadership on this issue.”

Englebright concluded “Given the potential harm that pesticides present for our children during crucial developmental states and the availability of cost-effective alternatives, it is simply unacceptable to continue to use pesticides to care for fields and playgrounds where our children spend hours playing.”

The bill contains provisions for the use of pesticides in emergency situations with the approval of local health departments or the schools district (in the case of a public school). The bill also specifies certain low-toxicity pesticides that are exempt from the prohibition.