Montgomery County, MD is First County in the U.S. to Restrict the
Non-essential Use of Harmful Pesticides, Herbicides on Lawns with the Goal of Protecting Public Health and the Environment
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Contact: Alex Zeineddin | info@safegrowmontgomery.org | 202-360-7166

GAITHERSBURG MD October 7, 2015

The Montgomery County Council passed an amended Healthy Lawns Bill 52-14 in a 6-3 vote Tuesday, October 6th, 2015.  Montgomery County, Maryland becomes the first county and largest jurisdiction in the nation to restrict the non-essential use of harmful pesticides, herbicides, on County-owned and private lawns and playgrounds.

The Montgomery County Council recognized the need to act where Federal regulation has failed to fully protect human and environmental health. Starting in 2018, the health of the county’s more than 1 million residents, the local water, soil and air quality, and pollinators will be protected from non-essential use of harmful lawn pesticides, herbicides. Children, people with health vulnerabilities – such as asthma, chemical sensitivities, and cancer – and pets are especially affected by the wide-spread use and unavoidable exposure to lawn pesticides, herbicides.

“Property owners have a right to maintain their own property, but they do not have a right to inflict harm upon their neighbors. Residents will still be free to hire any lawn care professional to treat their lawn or to manage their own lawn care, but they can do so now with the confidence that their family will be better protected,” said Council President George Leventhal.

Councilmember Nancy Navarro stated, “We don’t have time to wait for the federal government to act and – environmental justice is a big deal” and in Spanish she explained  to many in the audience how the law would protect workers, day laborers, and their families from exposure to pesticides.

85% (over 4700) of all letters and petition signatures received by County Council supported Bill 52-14. The Bill was backed by overwhelming support from residents, families, health professionals, CASA de Maryland, Montgomery County Council of PTAs, and the Safe Grow Montgomery coalition of over 40 other local organizations and businesses, including the Montgomery County and Maryland Sierra Club, watershed groups, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Beyond Pesticides, and many more.

Even though intense industry pressure continues, there is no evidence that the bill will harm landscape jobs. The demand for workers and applicators will continue with a transition to safe lawn care practices, including the use of safer organics-compatible EPA registered products allowed under the bill, and the permitted use of conventional pesticides for specific targeted uses. Many of the lawn care companies are already equipped to offer these safer services. Bill 52-14 will grow jobs in the landscaping industry as has been proven in many Canadian jurisdictions that enacted similar restrictions.

Although restrictions for playing fields were not included in the bill, Safe Grow Montgomery remains hopeful that Montgomery County Parks Department will work quickly on a meaningful plan to transition playing field in a timely manner so children on all park lands are protected.

Council President Leventhal said, “Countless studies have linked pesticides to a wide range of health conditions in children and adults and, since the bill was introduced one year ago, I have received hundreds of reports from constituents of children and pets experiencing adverse effects from the application of pesticides.”

Safe Grow Montgomery families and coalition members thank the courageous actions of Montgomery County Councilmembers that gave an affirmative vote for Healthy Lawns Bill 52-14.

The bill was sponsored by Councilmember George Leventhal and had 6 votes for the passage and 3 votes against. Councilmembers Leventhal, Tom Hucker, Nancy Navarro, Hans Riemer, Nancy Floreen, and Marc Elrich voted in favor of the bill. Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Craig Rice and Sidney Katz voted against the bill.

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