Another Maryland community says no to pesticides

Cheers to the city of Gaithersburg, Maryland, which has chosen to opt-in to Montgomery County’s Healthy Lawns Act, restricting toxic pesticide use on public and private property. The mayor and City Council voted to adopt the law earlier this month, and it will take effect for all residents and businesses on Dec. 1, according to media reports.

Although Montgomery County passed the Healthy Lawns Act approximately five years ago, incorporated cities within the county are required to proactively opt-in to the law for it to apply within their jurisdiction.

Gaithersburg is the latest, and largest city to opt-in to the county’s law, which encourages organic practices by limiting pesticide use on lawns and landscapes to products that are certified organic or considered minimum risk by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“When Connecticut’s legislature is back in session, Friends of Animals will resume a lobbying effort to expose the dangers of toxic pesticide use on public and private properties and support a similar bill to prohibit such toxins for landscape management,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals.

Pesticides are not only hazardous to humans and wildlife on land. Runoff from pesticides is harmful to waterways and marine animals. Stranded dolphins and whales along the United States Eastern Seaboard contain herbicides, disinfectants, plastics, and heavy metals, research published in Frontiers of Marine Science finds. The witches brew of toxins is likely contributing to ill health among these ecologically important, intelligent and charismatic species, and may be playing a role in the occurrence of strandings.

“It’s no small thing. It’s ghastly to ignore the science just to have a ‘perfect’ lawn that mimics a golf course,” Feral said.

“We cannot simply continue to observe while ecosystems are poisoned – science points the way, but it is the job of informed residents of the United States to act in a way that protects public health and the wider environment,” staff from Beyond Pesticides, a national non-profit, wrote in an Aug. 19 blog.

It gives us hope that there is a movement across the U.S. to transition to healthy lawn care policies. Beyond Pesticides’ Map of U.S. Pesticide Reform Policies lists more than 150 communities in 23 states that restrict chemical pesticide use.