N.J. may restrict pesticide use in children’s play areas

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure to restrict pesticide use in areas where children play.

The Safe Playing Fields Act would limit the use of lawn-care pesticides on school playgrounds, at day care centers and on recreational fields.

Robert Lumbach, a physician and scientist at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said pesticides can have harmful effects on children.

“Studies have linked pesticides that are used on lawns to cancer, to harmful effects on children’s endocrine systems and immune systems, to asthma, to developmental disorders and learning disabilities,” he said Monday.

New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel agreed with Lumbach’s assessment of pesticides.

“Many of them are known carcinogens. Many of them are suspected of impacting children’s health,” said Tittel. “We can deal with mosquitoes other ways through having big traps and zappers and other things.”

But Enid Torok of the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association said banning the pesticides would cause playgrounds to become choked with weeds and hard-packed.

“This opens it up to children being hurt. We’re seeing broken bones. We’re seeing concussions. We’re seeing any manner of injuries,” she said.

The Senate’s environment committee unanimously approved the measure. It’s still awaiting action in the Assembly.

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