Every year Americans use more than 80 million pounds of pesticides and other chemicals on their lawns and gardens. Some studies show that only 5% of pesticides reach target weeds, the rest is absorbed in the ground, washed into surrounding water sources, and can be tracked into homes. In Connecticut much of these chemicals are carried by storm run off into rivers and then into Long Island Sound. This has caused hypoxia, or the depletion of oxygen in the water, in Long Island Sound which has begun to decline since environmental regulations have been implemented in Connecticut. When these chemicals are not flushed into the sound, they seep into the soil and can enter the water table potentially contaminating well water. When pesticides are applied to residential lawns, children, pets and parents are exposed to harmful chemicals which have been linked to a large variety of health issues including cancers, birth defects, and challenges to child development.
Many Connecticut towns have adopted bans or restrictions on pesticide use on lawns and gardens. The state of Connecticut has already adopted a ban on the use of pesticides on school lawns, forcing landscapers to learn organic land care techniques for public school grounds. Before the ban was in effect, Branford, Connecticut stopped using pesticides on all twenty-four of the town’s fields. The town collects the residents’ leaves to create compost and mulch, which greatly reduced the need for pesticides or fertilizers because the compost created healthier soils which produced healthier grass. Connecticut is now looking to extend a pesticide ban to high schools. Plainfield enacted a resolution in support of voluntary non-use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers on lawns and gardens by the citizens of Plainfield. The town went a step further and declared Paderewski Park pesticide and synthetic fertilizer free as a pilot project to test out organic turf management. Essex has adopted a similar resolution urging voluntary refrain from the use of chemical fertilizers and lawn pesticides. Essex and Plainfield’s resolutions both cite potential water pollution, environmental degradation, significant health threats to children, pets, and unborn children, water conservation and soil health in their resolutions. The town of Roxbury also put in place regulations on pesticide and fertilizer applications within 50 feet of a water course.
New York has joined sixteen other states in banning the sale of artificial lawn fertilizers because of high phsophus onctent. Phosphorous has a significant negative impact in lakes and reservoirs and about 50% of phosphorous found in storm runoff comes from lawn fertilizer. New York also was the second state, after Connecticut, to ban pesticides in schoolyards and on playing fields.
As organic lawn care becomes more main stream and there are a greater variety of resources and options, there will hopefully be more pesticide bans in Connecticut. As a state with a high population density and neighboring a water body which is highly sensitive to run off pollution, we have the responsibility to continue to reduce the use of unnecessary chemicals. Each town must already use some form of pesticide free land care for their schools, this has made for an easy transition to town-wide voluntary reductions of pesticide use.
Read more about Connecticut towns that have organic turf fields at town parks and at schools:
Branford, Connecticut’s 24 fields are all maintained without the use of chemical pesticides of fertilizers. Read the BeyondPesticides Article
Cheshire’s McNamara Legion Field and the Maclary Complext football field transitioned to organic care in 2007.
Granby has maintained their fields organically for several years and is featured in the CT DEEP‘s DVD promoting municipal organic land care.
Greenwich Connecticut also banned the use of pesticides on all of its athletic fields in 2008.
Manchester and Watertown had transitioned their fields to organic management as of November 2011.
Woodbridge, CT banned the use of pesticides on all town football, soccer and baseball fields in 2012
Plainville has a pesticide ordinance and declared Paderewski Park pesticide and synthetic fertilizer free as well
Essex and Roxbury have taken steps to limit pesticide and herbicide application with town ordinances.
Chip Osborne and Eileen Gunn wrote an article “Pesticides and Playing Fields” for Beyond Pesticides to highlight the health risks for children to use synthetic pesticides on fields and the benefits of maintaining a field organically without harmful pesticides.