According to administrators, local schools and ballclubs are already in compliance with a new state law which bans the use of pesticides on athletic fields and playgrounds.
The Child Safe Playing Fields Act, signed into law in May, bans harmful pesticides on school and daycare center playgrounds and playing fields.
Jack Blaum, safety director for the Three Village school district, said pesticides are no longer in use in the district.
“We already have a plan in place that uses only environmentally friendly biopesticides on our playing fields and playgrounds,” he said.
Derived from natural materials such as animals and plants, Blaum said, biopesticides generally only affect the target pest, not animals such as birds.
The Three Village Soccer Club will have its program changed in time for next summer in order to be in compliance with the new law. Club board member Don Hoffmann, who was not aware of the recent law change, said, “We will be working with our [lawn care] company and will do whatever we need to do to be in compliance.”
Joseph Piro, facilities administrator for the Smithtown School District, said that district hasn’t used pesticides in ten years and instead uses an integrated pest management (IPM) program.
“We seal up cracks and crevices on the inside of the school. The IPM person inspects and then suggests a safe chemical to use,” he said.
New York is the first state to ban the use of chemical turf pesticides on school grounds. The ban takes effect in the spring of 2011, but many local schools such as the Three Village Central School District, Smithtown and Bayport-Blue Point have already done away with harmful pesticides.
The passage of the bill was due largely to the work of Assemb. Steve Englebright (D, Setauket) and State Sen. Brian Foley (D, Blue Point).
“It is simply unacceptable to continue the use of pesticides to care for fields and playgrounds where our children are playing,” said Englebright, who has long been a champion of environmental causes.
Grassroots, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to educating the public about links between common environmental toxins and human health, has said playing fields maintained without toxic chemicals can perform just as well as chemically maintained turf.
The signing of the bill into law by Gov. David Paterson came on the heels of a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics that linked exposure to pesticides with the development of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Order (ADHD).
“The routine application of chemical pesticides to school fields has made play into a hazardous activity for kids,” Englebright said.