Most pesticides would be banned on any school lawn or park playground under a bill making its way through Trenton that advocates say is the toughest of its kind in the nation.
Dubbed the Safe Playing Fields Act, the bill allows only low-impact pesticides that contain benign ingredients at public and private schools, day-care facilities and ball fields at public parks. It was unanimously approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee this week.
“Children are more susceptible to these chemicals, so it seemed prudent to take extra precautions,” said Sen. Robert Gordon, D-Fair Lawn, who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Trenton.
Connecticut bans pesticides at schools for kindergarten through fifth grade; New York bans the use from kindergarten through high school, said Dave Pringle, head of the New Jersey Environmental Federation advocacy group. Neither ban it at child-care facilities.
“This bill really covers everything,” he said. “We’re talking about the nastiest chemicals out there and targeting the places where the most vulnerable are.”
Opponents say the bill would ban products that are safe.
“We support the concept of safe playing fields for children, but this bans products that have been tested and aren’t a threat,” said Nancy Sadlon, head of the Green Industry Council, which represents about 300 businesses, including landscapers.