Synopsis: The bill would prohibit the use of regulated pesticides on the grounds of schools, daycare centers, parks and recreational areas.
Sponsor: Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer)
What it aims to do: Prevent childhood exposure to dangerous pesticides, which some scientists and health professionals believe is linked to an increase in asthma and cancer rates among kids. The bill follows the lead of other states in banning regulated pesticides on the grounds of daycare centers and schools, as well as playgrounds and recreational areas. It essentially strengthens a 2002 law requiring advanced notification and other precautions in applying pesticides in these areas.
How it came about: The bill has been a priority of many environmental groups and parents who fear that children, particularly toddlers, are more vulnerable to exposure to pesticides, a worry that has led many communities to adopt pesticide-free zones in areas where the children gather and play. The bill would ban the use of regulated pesticides but allow so-called low-impact pesticides, which are unregulated.
Why it raises concerns: The bill is opposed by the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association, which argues it will create unsafe conditions on playing fields by allowing weeds to outcompete grass and harden areas where children play. The measure also is opposed by the New Jersey Green Industry Council, which says it is an unnecessary duplication of existing law and reduces the ability to control, ticks, bees, hornets and other insects that threaten the health and safety of children.
Prospects: The bill cleared the Senate Environment and Energy Committee by an unanimous vote with bipartisan support so it likely will be difficult to stop, although some legislators seemed sympathetic with some of the arguments made by opponents. Nevertheless, it will be difficult for a legislator to vote against a bill that proponents argue is aimed at protecting children’s health.