• March 31, 2020

Residents protest pesticide use; Ocean City says it is testing organic methods - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Residents protest pesticide use; Ocean City says it is testing organic methods

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Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2020 10:23 am

OCEAN CITY – Activists holding signs flanked resident Donna Moore as she addressed council about the dangers of chemical pesticides at council’s Feb. 13 meeting. 

“No Chemical Lawn Pesticides,” “Endocrine System Disruptors,” “Toxic to Aquatic Life,” and “Ground Water Contamination” were some of the cardboard signs displayed as Moore, known for her repeated stance against chemical pesticides, addressed council. 

Council President Pete Madden asked Moore to have the activists sit down. 

When Moore insisted the signs were part of her presentation, Madden relented and the activists stood holding their signs. Moore wore a placard that read, “Refuse to Use Toxic Chemical Lawn Pesticides.”

Moore said she sent emails to city Business Administrator George Savastano and city Department of Community Development Director Vince Bekier requesting a list of the properties that will be included in the eco-friendly landscaping contract. 

The city set aside eight out of 32 sites in town for eco-friendly alternatives to pesticides. 

The areas designated for eco-friendly landscaping practices include plots on 16th Street and Pleasure Avenue; Walnut Road; Ocean City Dog Park at 45th Street; West Atlantic and North Point roads; the Bayside Center on Bay Avenue; Open Space Park north of Route 52; and Mark Soifer Park on Ninth Street. 

Moore said the youth athletic fields aren’t included in the contract as eco-friendly landscaping areas.

“The first chemical coming is dithiopyr. It’s a reproductive disruptor. It also has warnings to avoid breathing dust, fumes, gas, mist, vapor, spray. This is being put on youth athletic fields. The effects on humans may cause cancer by inhalation from WHO (World Health Organization), the international agency for research on cancer. It’s an endocrine system disruptor that affects hormonal regulation, growth regulation, body systems, brain development,” Moore said. 

According to Moore, the chemical interrupts the immune system and is toxic to aquatic life. She said the herbicide’s half-life is 444 days and is present in the soil from last year.

“We don’t need dithiopyr in the youth athletic fields,” Moore said. “It’ a groundwater contaminant in permeable sandy soils like our soils that leeches easily.”

She wanted the youth athletic fields to be included in the eco-friendly contract for landscaping.

Resident Georgina Shanley said New Jersey has the highest incidents in the country of autism. 

 “Since 2010 to 2014 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there’s been a 43 percent increase. A lot of it has to do with chemicals in utero often affecting the baby before the baby is born,” Shanley said.

Shanley said “it would be a really great thing for the city” for council to listen to Moore’s suggestions.

“She’s not trying to fight anybody. She’s just trying to make this a healthy community for everybody. She’s doing it in the most gracious way,” Shanley said.

Savastano told the Sentinel that Moore asked the city to consider using organic practices for landscaping.

“We identified eight areas in town and we sent the list to Donna,” Savastano said. “Those are the ones we want to start with. We want to see how it works. That’s what we agreed to do. Not everyone’s necessarily sold on this but we said we would try it.” 

Savastano said the city researched organic pesticide practices and not adding the athletic fields onto the lists wasn’t deliberate.  

 “Sofier Park was one of them. Kids play on that. The Bayside Center, the kids play on that. They run kid’s programs on there,” Savastano said. “I also maintain what we do already is safe. We’re not using unsafe applications. There are some who don’t agree with that and that’s why we agreed to look at these other methodologies that don’t use chemicals and are organic in nature. We’re trying to do the right thing and we’re trying to be accommodating to people who have what we think are viable suggestions.”

The city expects to award a landscaping contract in March. 

 

 

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