TRENTON – Legislation intended to protect children from exposure to potentially harmful pesticides at child care centers and certain schools, playgrounds and recreational fields was released Thursday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-3261-3782), called the “Safe Playing Fields Act,” would prohibit the use of pesticide on the grounds of any child care center, including a playground or recreational field in the center, except as an emergency response to an immediate threat to human health, as determined by school officials, in consultation with the local health officer. It would also restrict child access to pesticide treated areas for at least seven hours after the application.
“Children are more vulnerable to toxic exposure because their bodies are still developing,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union), one of the bill’s sponsors. “Adverse effects of pesticide exposure range from mild symptoms of dizziness and nausea to serious, long-term neurological, developmental and reproductive disorders. These are risks that no child should be exposed to.”
The bill would also prohibit the use of pesticide on the grounds of any school, including a playground or recreational field located in the school, which enrolls students in kindergarten or in any grade between first and eight grade, and playgrounds, except as an emergency response to an immediate threat to human health. This bill does not apply to playgrounds on the grounds of a community association.
Any pesticide labeled, designed, or intended for use on lawns, gardens, turf or ornamental plantings would be prohibited under this bill. The bill excludes low impact pesticides.
In addition, the bill would direct the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, to adopt rules and regulations concerning pesticide application, record keeping, and staff and parental notification procedures at child care centers with the goal of mitigating potential health risks to young children.
According to the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, studies of pesticide harm point to everything from elevated rates of childhood leukemias, soft tissue sarcomas aggressive tumors, and brain cancers to childhood asthma and other respiratory problems. In a 1987 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, children whose parents used pesticides in their homes and gardens were seven times more likely to get leukemia.
The bill would take effect a year after the date the bill is signed into law. It was released by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.