‘No person shall apply a lawn care pesticide on the grounds of any public or private preschool or public or private school with students in grade eight or lower.’
DANBURY, Conn. - Public and private schools across the state that have children in eighth grade or lower will no longer be able to use pesticides on their lawns or playing fields, in accordance with a state law that took effect Thursday.
The law, passed this winter by the General Assembly, expanded the prohibition of pesticides on school grounds to the playing fields. It says, "No person shall apply a lawn care pesticide on the grounds of any public or private preschool or public or private school with students in grade eight or lower."
The law would allow pesticide use to eliminate an immediate threat to human health.
Bethel schools took steps three years ago to eliminate pesticides.
"We made the switch a number of years ago," Superintendent of Schools Gary Chesley says. "It's a big deal. You don't want to introduce poisons to the children. We follow the regulations to the letter, and we have a company we respect doing our work."
The park and recreation departments in Danbury and Brookfield maintain the grounds of their schools and have been updated about the new policy.
Newtown Superintendent Janet Robinson says her district has been free of pesticides for about three years.
"We knew it was inevitable," she says. "The law requires us to keep a list of students whose parents must be notified if you use a pesticide, and it alerted us to a future ban of pesticides. We've been paying attention."
But, she pointed out, there are many town fields that children will play on in the summer that are not obligated to follow the law.
Nancy Alderman, president of the advocacy group Environment and Human Health, says the bill prohibited pesticides on school grounds, but it's taken years to make it effective on school playing fields.
"It's important that the park and recreation departments that take care of the fields, and for PTAs that monitor what goes on in schools, to know about the law,'' she says. "This is ground-breaking legislation."
New York state passed a bill banning pesticides on fields at all schools, which is stricter than Connecticut's law, but it's not effective yet.
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