Portsmouth City Councilors have voted to immediately stop using synthetic pesticides to treat town property. Instead, they will use organic products on city-owned lawns, ponds, and waterways. Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine, who first proposed the “Toxic Free Weed Control Resolution,” says it makes Portsmouth the first municipality in the state to stop using toxic pesticides. The Resolution also states that city staff will prepare an organic weed control program for the City Council to consider as part of the 2019 budget.
Other cities and towns considering organic products
Other communities are considering following Portsmouth's example. In Dover, a group called “Non-Toxic Dover” has lobbied for an end to the use of synthetic pesticides on public school fields and playgrounds. Ultimately, the group hopes for the city to stop using the chemicals entirely, just as Portsmouth has done. In Exeter, too, community members are discussing ways to end their reliance on synthetic pesticides and lawn care products.
A state-wide change
Earlier this year, a bill that would create a state-wide law ending the use of synthetic pesticides on public playgrounds and sports fields was introduced. HB 399 was crafted with input from the “Non-Toxic Dover” group and is currently in committee.
Going organic: a good idea?
Those who support ending the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides by municipalities say that doing so would protect the environment and be safer for families who use public playgrounds and fields. Some commercial chemical products – most notably “Roundup” – have been linked to cancer. Chemicals used on lawns can also make their way down the watershed and do damage to aquatic ecosystems.
Opponents of switching to organic alternatives argue that pilot programs for testing their effectiveness are too expensive. They believe any chemical product that is sold legally in the US has passed through enough regulatory hurdles to be safely used on public green spaces. They also worry that the organic pesticides chosen to replace synthetic ones won’t do as good a job.
What do you think? Should more NH municipalities join Portsmouth in banning the use of synthetic pesticides on town property? Let us know by casting your vote – yes or no, and why – in the comments below.