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Opinion

EDITORIAL: Get the pesticides off school playing fields

We worry a lot about the hazards that face our kids in school, from cyberbullying to smuggled weapons. But we don't worry enough about the grass.

The fields where children play, at recess and in organized sports, stay green with a lot of help from pesticides. But they don't have to. More than 30 Long Island school districts are already moving toward organic grass care. And a local group, Grassroots Environmental Education, has done a study showing that annual costs of this safer method can be 25 percent lower after the second year than the method that uses pesticides.

What's more, multiple scientific studies raise serious concerns about the health impact of the chemicals in pesticides on fast-developing young brains and bodies. So why not ban the use of pesticides for aesthetic purposes on school grounds? The state has already mandated green cleaning products inside the schools. This seems like the logical next step.

Last year, the Assembly passed a school pesticide ban sponsored by Assemb. Steven Englebright (D-Setauket), and it will do it again for Earth Day next month. Sen. Brian Foley (D-Blue Point) has it in the Senate. But in committee Tuesday a vote was delayed after Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) raised objections. He says, among other things, that it duplicates the pesticide notification law.

The sensible goal is not to know that pesticides are there, but to be sure that they aren't. The committee revisits it today. As they meet, they should worry about our kids. hN

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