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Grassroots Executive Director Patti Wood being congratulated by Brian Thompson, NY Bureau Reporter, WNBC-TV (left) and Alan J. Steinberg, Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency - Region 2.

Grassroots Environmental Education, an environmental non-profit based in Port Washington, NY, was awarded a 2006 Environmental Quality Award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency for its innovative and highly successful "Grassroots Healthy Lawn Program." The multi-faceted program, which encompasses consumer outreach, intensive landscaper training and retailer participation, has proven an outstanding success in Westchester County for two years, and Grassroots will bring the program to Long Island in the fall of 2006.

"The success of the program has been largely due to the cooperation we have received from government agencies, the professional landscaping community, and the parents of young children," says Patti Wood, founder and executive director of Grassroots. "We are very encouraged that the EPA has recognized the reduction of lawn pesticides as an important step in protecting public health and the environment."

To date, the Grassroots Healthy Lawn Program, or "GHLP," has trained about 250 professionals in the techniques of maintaining lush, green lawns without toxic chemicals. An interactive website (www.ghlp.org) helps consumers quickly locate landscaping companies which offer non-toxic lawn care services. Grassroots also provides programs for school, civic and community groups, and helps retailers procure non-toxic lawn care products.

This fall Grassroots will offer four intensive training workshops for school facilities directors and managers of municipal fields and parks on Long Island. The workshop, taught by national sports turf expert Chip Osborne, will focus on the basic materials and techniques needed to maintain turf on playing fields and park land that gets heavy usage.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "The commonplace, widespread use of pesticides is both a major environmental problem and a public health issue. And most pesticides - despite having an EPA registration - have not been adequately tested to determine their effects on people or the environment". Scientific studies link exposure to common lawn care pesticides with an increased risk of several types of cancer, neurological and respiratory diseases, endocrine disruption and birth defects. Children are particularly vulnerable because of their developing physiology and behavioral patterns.

Grassroots, which produces documentary films and other educational materials on the links between common environmental exposures and human health, was recently awarded a Distinguished Public Health Service Award from the Westchester County Department of Health for the organizations' pesticide reduction and consumer education efforts. "We thank and applaud Grassroots Environmental Education for their efforts in protecting the health of the public," said Board of Health President, Douglas G. Aspros, D.V.M.


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