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
"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
"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
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.