BY WAFA JAWAD • THE MOCO STUDENT
Despite being first introduced in October of 2014, Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal’s bill to regulate the use of pesticides in Montgomery County did not attract much attention until earlier this month. Bill 52-14 would prohibit the use of some pesticides, require posting notices before the use of other pesticides, and require the county to turn towards integrated pest management for certain county-owned property.
Councilmember Leventhal introduced the bill after hearing from many residents about the impact pesticides would have on children. “After spending more than a year educating myself on the latest science involving pesticides and their impact on public health, I came to the conclusion that certain pesticides do indeed pose a very real threat to people of all ages, but especially to children,” he explained.
While the bill does not prohibit the use of all pesticides, some residents are concerned with the potential impact the bill could have if it is passed. The Maryland Farm Bureau expressed its opinion on the bill in a post on its website, stating that “bill 52-14 negatively impacts County residents by preventing the safe use of pesticides for lawn care, gardens and green space maintenance and protection from invasive species and disease.”
Takoma Park, MD passed a similar resolution, The Safe Grow Zone Act of 2013, largely due to local Safe Grow activists Catherine Cummings and Julie Taddeo, authors of the resolution – shown here presenting the resolution to the Takoma Park City Council in 2012.
In response to concerns, Leventhal issued a statement reassuring critics that the bill “completely exempts areas of private property where children are less likely to encounter toxic pesticides, such as gardens and agricultural land. In addition, the bill would not restrict the use of any pesticide that is used to promote public health and safety, like managing noxious weeds and invasive species, or pest control.”
The Bureau believes that citizens should be worried about the bill despite the current exemption of agriculture, declaring that “the future of agriculture in our County could be at risk without a permanent exemption. A future County Council could remove that exemption.”
However, a community organization called Safe Grow Montgomery approves of Leventhal’s proposal. The organization has expressed that the pesticide restriction measure “would be a landmark ordinance to protect families, especially children and pregnant women, pets, wildlife… waterways, and the wider environment from the hazards of the unnecessary use of lawn pesticides in Montgomery County.”
The Montgomery County Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee is set to have its second open session on the bill on Monday, March 30. Residents are encouraged to come voice their opinion on the bill. In addition, residents, businesses, and organizations are urged to contact County Council members to express their opinions on the bill.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Wafa Jawad of Clarksburg High School