Bayport-Blue Point School District Set to Replace Pesticides with Natural Turf Management Products
Bayport-Blue Point High School
200 Snedecor Ave, Bayport, NY
The district is one of several Long Island districts that are transitioning into using natural lawn care rather than pesticides.
Though pesticides are used in many communities on Long Island to maintain lawns and playing fields, Bayport-Blue Point is one of several Long Island school districts transitioning to chemical-free products to maintain their grounds.
Senator Brian X. Foley (D – Blue Point), Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D – Setauket) and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis were joined by environmental advocates to celebrate the signing of the Child Safe Playing Fields Act on Wednesday at Bayport-Blue Point High School.
This legislation, which was signed into law by Governor David Paterson in May, protects children and the environment by banning the use of harmful pesticides on school fields and playgrounds, as well as at daycare centers.
Grassroots, the aptly named Port Washington-based nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental education, plans to hold 10 one-day programs focused on educating school district administrators on how to green their lawn care regimen. This program will take place in schools from Buffalo, NY to Blue Point.
Bayport-Blue Point School District is already signed up for this Grassroots training, joining other schools in Nassau and Westchester counties that are ahead of the curve on this practice.
Pesticides have been shown to cause harm to the environment and the children using the fields, as well as contaminating groundwater and causing nervous, reproductive and immune system disorders.
Environmental groups, such as Grassroots and Citizens Campaign for the Environment, provided support and education to the politicians throughout the legislative process.
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign, emphasized the importance of this new law, as it has passed on the heels of a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics; the study links exposure to pesticides to the development of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Though the The Child Safe Playing Fields Act will not take effect until May 2011, Esposito encourages schools to begin this “critical transition” as soon as this September.
“Planning for future protection of our children’s health starts today. Healthy schools mean healthy children,” Esposito said.
Doug Woods, the Associate Director of Grassroots, said that not only does natural turf management cost less over a number of years than using chemical pesticides, but that “plenty of places have put to rest the rumor that you need pesticides to have healthy grass.”
Commissioner Grannis said the DEC fully supports limiting the use of pesticides in outdoor settings at schools and daycare facilities precisely because infants and children are so much more susceptible to the effects of toxic pesticides than adults.
The Child Safe Playing Fields Act complements the DEC’s new Be Green program, which promotes organic lawn care and is one more important step towards a toxic free future, Grannis said.
“Children using playgrounds and playing fields come into direct contact with pesticides applied to those areas,” Grannis said.
Restricting the use of pesticides also fosters a safer environment, protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink on a daily basis, Foley said.
The Child Safe Playing Fields Act amends various provisions in the law to allow the DEC and the Department of Health to develop guidance on pesticide alternatives and to limit the use of pesticides on school grounds and at daycare centers.
It also includes provisions to allow for the emergency application of pesticides in rare and exceptional cases. However, with alternative lawn products on the market that are both safer and more cost-effective for consumers, it is believed that these instances will be few and far between.
Note: Bayport-Blue Point School District could not be reached for comment at this time. Check back soon for a follow-up story on the district’s transition to chemical-free products for turf management.