Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lawn Certificate Course at Audubon Greenwich

Diba Kahn-Bureau discusses how water quality is affected by nutrient
runoff from fertilizers.
Program Director Jenna Messier introduces Chip Osborne
On March 19, Audubon Greenwich hosted our second Lawn Certificate Course funded by the Long Island Sound Futures Fund. It was a tough day to plan a full day course, since the northeast was hit with (another) snow and ice and sleet storm. But our attendees persevered to learn more about how organic lawn care contributes to water quality in rivers, wells and Long Island Sound.

Chip Osborne discusses Turfgrass Fertilization
Judy Preston started the day with "Surf and Turf" an explanation of lawn practices and their impact on Long Island Sound water quality. Diba Kahn-Bureau talked more about soil health and water quality after Judy's presentation

Chip Osborne of Osborne organics taught an introduction to organic lawn care. Chip's segment on turgrass fertility focused on the use of organic inputs to improve soil biology, suppress plant disease, improve soil structure and encourage over all plant health. Frank Crandall of Horticultural Solutions taught about pricing of organic services and making organic profitable to sustain a landscaping business.  Chip Osborne ended the day discussing cultural practices with organic turf like mowing and irrigation, and how to address turf grass pests.

The Audubon Center in Greenwich was a great place to have our course - because they have already hosted a number of courses with Chip and are committed to pesticide reduction to benefit wildlife.  Check out these seven reasons to create organic lawns and gardens from Audubon at Home:
1. 67 million birds are killed every year by pesticides.
(U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Audubon, March-April 2007, p. 88)
(Burg, Robert, ed. “The Long Island Sound Study,” Sound Health 2006. EPA Long Island Sound 
Office, Stamford, CT.: p.12)
2. Fertilizers and pesticides from lawn runoff are highly damaging to the ecology of our streams, ponds, and the Long Island Sound.
(Second National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, U.S. Center for Disease 
Control, January 2003)
Audubon Greenwich - Kimberlin Center
Audubon Greenwich
3. 100% of Americans have traces of pesticides in their body tissue.
(Second National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, U.S. Center for Disease 
Control, January 2003)
4. Children living in households where pesticides are used have higher rates 
of leukemia and brain cancer.
(Leiss, J. et al. 1995. “Home Pesticide Use and Childhood Cancer: A Case Control Study,” American 
Journal of Public Health 85: 249-252)
5. Three separate studies in 2011 have linked common pesticides to long 
term reduction in cognitive development in children. 
(Bouchard, M.F. et al. 2011. “Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides and IQ in 7-year old 
Children,” Environmental Health Perspectives Online, Engel, S.M. et al. 2011. “Prenatal Exposure to 
Organophosphates, Paraxonase 1, and Cognitive Development in Childhood,” Environmental Health 
Perspectives Online, Rauh, V. et al. 2011. “7-Year Neurodevelopmental Scores and Prenatal Exposure to 
Chlorpyrifos, a Common Agricultural Pesticide, Environmental Health Perspectives Online)
6. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (the 2nd fastest growing cancer in the U.S.) 
is linked to common herbicides and fungicides.
(Zahm, S. et al. 1990 “A Case Control Study of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and the Herbicide 2,4-D,” 
Epidemiology 1 (5): 349-356)
7. Dogs whose owners use 2,4-D (common weed killer) on their lawns are 
twice as likely to die of cancer.
(Hayes, H. et al, 1991. “Case Control Study of Canine Malignant Lymphoma: Positive Association with 
Dog Owners’ Use of 2,4-D Acid Herbicides,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 83 (17): 1226)

A big thanks to our friends at Greenwich Audubon, to our presenters, and to our attendees who weathered the storm to learn about organic lawn and turf care!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Call Your Legislator: Current Bills to Expand Restrictions on CT Pesticide Applications

In the world of conventional lawn and land care in Connecticut, the coming of spring heralds the onset of chemical pesticide applications to residential lawns, parks, municipal grounds, and some schools. Municipalities and towns currently have difficulty obtaining the authority to regulate pesticide applications on their public and private grounds, and while CT has a pesticide ban in place right now for K-8 public schools, grade 9-12 schools are not included in the legislation.

Soon, however, all that may change.  This year, several bills were introduced at the capitol that, if passed, would aid in the reduction or elimination of synthetic pesticides on secondary school grounds, municipal parks and recreation areas, and residential areas by town.  Here's the background about each bill:

Raised Bill 914: An Act Concerning the Application of Pesticides at Municipal Parks
If passed, this bill will apply the same restrictions concerning the application of pesticides at day care centers to the application of pesticides at municipal parks. These restrictions will help protect the people who enjoy the municipal parks from needless chemical exposure, and will also prevent the poisoning and resulting population decline of the insect population that many species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals rely on as a food source.  Check out the Connecticut Audubon Society's testimony in support of this bill here.

Raised Bill 981: An Act Concerning Pesticides on School Grounds
If passed, this bill will expand the ban on the use of lawn care pesticides in schools to include schools with students in grades nine to twelve, inclusive.  This extends the current K-8 ban to include all levels of elementary and secondary education, providing Connecticut's children with an uninterrupted pesticide-free education. CT NOFA, which the NOFA Organic Land Care Program is a part of, is a member of the Connecticut Safe Grounds Coalition that supports the K-8 ban.  For the Coalition, and for any parent of education employee, this is big news.

Proposed Bill 5411: An Act Authorizing Certain Municipal Regulations of the Application of Pesticides on Residential Properties
If passed, this bill will enable municipalities to enact pesticide application regulations that are more stringent than the regulations adopted by the state in order to protect aquifers and environmentally sensitive areas from contamination and to protect children and pets from the toxic effects of pesticides. This bill is similar to the following bill (6440) in that it allows municipalities more authority to pass regulations independently of the state.

Raised Bill 6440: An Act Concerning Municipalities and the Application of Lawn Care Pesticides
If passed, this bill will allow municipalities to apply to the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection for the authority to regulate the spraying of lawn care pesticides in such municipality. Currently, even if a town or municipality wanted to adopt pesticide regulations that were more stringent than those enforced by the state, it would be illegal to do so because the state law preempts the local law.  This bill will empower communities to take action against toxic chemicals on their landscapes, even if the state has yet to enact similar measures.

All of these bills are extremely important when thinking about a holistic approach to human health, wildlife conservation, and environmental protection.  If we are to effectively avoid chemical pesticide exposure, both for ourselves and for other species, we ultimately need to regulate the application of such chemicals in all areas and in all industries.  Individual regulations are incredibly important, both in mitigating chemical exposure and in showing us the path we need to head in, but each individual regulation is only part of a much larger, more encompassing, and vital whole.

Please call your legislator today in support of one or more of these bills.  If you're not sure who your legislators are, you can use this online tool to find out. Working together, we can take control of our health and the health of the world around us.

Have a great weekend,