For seven years, environmentalists have lobbied the state Legislature to pass a law requiring pesticide applicators to notify their clients' neighbors prior to using high-pressure sprayers to apply pest treatments. Their efforts were realized at a press conference held earlier this week.
At the press conference, held at A.P. Willits elementary school in Syosset, Governor George Pataki signed a bill into law that requires advance notification be given to the public before the use of pesticides. The bill, sponsored by State Senator Carl Marcellino, (R-Syosset) requires that neighbors and parents be given 48 hours notice before pesticides are sprayed on lawns or in schools and day care centers.
"Pesticides are designed to kill, and therefore must be handled with great care, especially on school property or where homes are in close proximity to chemicals being applied," said Marcellino. "I am certain that this bill will go a long way in protecting families from these dangerous toxins."
The Neighbor Notification Law requires schools to provide at least four notices a year to parents and staff listing all previous applications and giving the name of a contact person in the school who can provide additional information. Any person wishing to receive 48-hour advance notice from the school can contact the individual institution and be placed on a contact list. The school is then obligated, by law, to contact, either by phone or by mail, those listed prior to any spraying. Day care facilities are required to post notices on facility property 48-hours prior to pesticide applications inside and outside the building.
Lawn care use is also addressed in the bill. Every county in this state is authorized to adopt and enforce local law requiring 48-hour notification to abutting neighbors within 150 feet of a risky application. Homeowners who treat more than 100 square feet will be required to flag their property in the same manner as commercial applicators, so that neighbors and others will know to avoid entering the property. Retailers who sell pesticides will have the responsibility to post signs where pesticides are displayed, informing homeowners of their responsibilities to follow label precautions and to warn their neighbors.
"It is my hope that by not requiring notification of applications that present little or no risk to students, we will encourage schools in New York state to move toward an integrated pest management plan that would reduce both the amount and frequency of pesticides used," said Marcellino.
Although the requirement for notification of pesticide usage to parents with children in day care centers and schools would apply to the entire state with no exceptions, the bill allows individual counties to opt in or opt out of requiring notification for spraying.
Presiding Officer Judith A, Jacobs (D-Woodbury), Minority Leader Peter J. Schmitt (R-Massapequa) and Legislator Graig Johnson (D-Port Washington) have recently submitted local legislation that will allow Nassau County to opt into the new pesticide legislation. It will be considered in legislative committee on Monday, Aug. 28.
"Notification is key to allowing residents to take the precautions necessary to ensure that they are not accidentally exposed to a pesticide application," said Jacobs. "This legislation is important to protecting our residents and their families."
As required under the provisions of the state law, the local legislation becomes effective March 1, 2001 for private property, applicators and homeowners and July 1, 2001 for schools and day care centers.