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NEWS Release

Largest City In U.S. Adopts Plan To Curtail Use Of Pesticides

New York City will lead the nation in protecting the health of millions of people by enacting a law today that will begin restricting hazardous pesticide use on all city land. Also to be signed today is legislation that requires commercial landscapers to give neighbors prior notice before spraying pesticides.

(New York City, May 9, 2005) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected today to sign into law legislation that will top the list nationwide in protecting the largest number of people from cancer-causing and highly toxic pesticides. The new law requires the City to phase out acutely toxic pesticides and those that are known or suspected to cause cancer or developmental disorders by November 2006, and develop a strategy to utilize less toxic methods in the future on city property.

The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and Beyond Pesticides applauded the New York City Council and Mayor Bloomberg for enacting this bill and another that requires neighbor notification before commercial landscapers spray pesticides.

"These bills put New York City at the forefront of the national effort to move pest control in a new direction, away from poisons and towards prevention," said Laura Haight, senior environmental associate for NYPIRG, a New York State environmental and consumer advocacy group. "Whole generations of children in New York City have been exposed to pesticides that the EPA subsequently banned because they were unsafe. Fortunately, there are safer and smarter ways of controlling pests that are more effective and far less harmful than using toxic chemicals."

"The new law recognizes that we do not have to poison people and the environment to manage buildings and landscapes," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a Washington, D.C.-based national environmental group. Numerous jurisdictions across the country have adopted a similar law or policy, including San Francisco and Seattle. "New York City stands out among other jurisdictions because of the sheer number of people that will benefit from the new law," said Mr. Feldman.

The NYC Pesticide Reduction Law (Intro 329A), introduced by New York City Council Members James Gennaro and Christine Quinn, requires City agencies and contractors to reduce their use of toxic pesticides on property owned or leased by the city. It phases out the use of pesticides that are acutely toxic, and those that are known or suspected to cause cancer or developmental disorders, over the next 18 months. It also requires City agencies to adopt a pest control strategy that emphasizes safer alternatives. The city of New York has nearly 100 different agencies, 300,000 employees, thousands of contracts, and owns and manages a great deal of real estate, including over 28,000 acres of parkland.

The Neighbor Notification law (Intro 328A), also introduced by Council Members Gennaro and Quinn, requires commercial pesticide applicators to provide 48-hour advance notice to adjacent neighbors before spraying lawns, shrubs and trees with harmful pesticides. Seven counties in New York State have already opted into the law, which was enacted in 2000: Albany, Erie, Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, Tompkins, and Westchester.

Numerous studies have been conducted about the health effects of pesticide exposures in New York City after a report released by NYPIRG and Environmental Advocates in 1998 revealed that New York City accounted for more than a quarter of the total pesticide use in New York State. Concerns about pesticide health risks also triggered several successful pilot projects in New York City using non-toxic and least toxic methods to control roaches, mice and rats.

"New York City is one of the nation's first, and certainly the largest, cities to take concrete steps to eliminate its use of the most toxic and harmful pesticides," said Haight. "These two bills are a major step forward in reducing the risk to New Yorkers of harmful pesticide exposure, and will hopefully set an example for other cities to follow. If we can make safer pest control work here, we can make it work anywhere."

NYPIRG is New York State’s largest research and advocacy non-profit organization primarily focused on environmental preservation, consumer protection, government reform and public health issues.



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