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Legislature Could Move on School Pesticide Ban Next Week

The Safe Playing Fields Act could be voted on during the Jan. 9 legislative session.

A bill designed to protect New Jersey children from exposure to potentially harmful pesticides, similar to measures already in place in New York and Connecticut, could be just days away from passage after getting released by an Assembly committee at the end of last month.

The Safe Playing Fields Act would limit exposure to pesticides at child care centers and certain schools, playgrounds and recreational fields, but, as Suzanne Aptman, executive director of the Northern New Jersey Safe Yards Alliance said, time is running out and the entire process could be reset if the bill fails to get posted for a vote in next week’s legislative session.

"The longer you wait, the longer the children can be exposed to these toxic synthetic pesticides at school," Aptman said.

The bill goes as far to prohibit the use of pesticides completely at child care centers, elementary and middle schools, as well as their associated playgrounds and recreational fields.

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen), sponsor of the bill on the Assembly side, said parents shouldn’t have to worry about pesticides being used at schools.

"We all can appreciate a well-kept lawn, but not at the risk of exposing children to harmful pesticides,” she said.

The bill has the support of 44 co-sponsors, including Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Princeton), who is the primary sponsor of the bill (S2610) on the Senate side, as well as groups such as the Breast Cancer Fund, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.

Aptman said passing the bill will have long-term positive effects.

“Our current legislature has a great opportunity to leave an important legacy and give us all a great holiday present,” she said. “As parents we should call and email West Deptford's Senator and Senate President Steve Sweeney this week and urge him to post this bill, S2610, for a vote on Jan. 9.”

Sen. Sweeney can be reached at 856-251-9801 or at SenSweeney@njleg.org

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