New law protects Anchorage streams, drinking water, and public health
Last night, the Anchorage Assembly decided in a 10-1 vote to pass AO 2017-59, an ordinance that establishes pesticide-free policies and restrictions for parks, public lands and properties. This measure strengthens the public’s right to know and fosters a healthy approach to caring for our parks and public lands that minimizes the use of harmful pesticides. The ordinance received overwhelming community support in testimony from students, health care providers, organic gardeners, and ordinary citizens.
“Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles should not have to worry whether their child will be exposed to a harmful pesticide that could have long-term health consequences when they visit public parks to enjoy the great Alaska outdoors,” stated Pamela Miller, Executive Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “We extend a big thanks to outgoing chair Elvi Gray-Jackson for introducing the measure and for guiding its passage.”
The ordinance codifies an approach that focuses on long-term prevention of pests and their damage, using effective alternatives to chemical pesticides. Current pesticide registration protocols and regulations under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and State of Alaska are outdated and not reflective of the latest science, and leave gaps in the protection of public health, especially children.
“This is an important victory for the health of our community and our children,” stated Samantha Englishoe, a board member of Alaska Community Action on Toxics, a lifelong Anchorage resident, nursing school student, and auntie to an active two-year old. “Pesticides disrupt our endocrine systems, harm the developing brain and immune system of children, and affect human development and reproduction, and are associated with certain cancers, including pediatric cancers.”
Dr. Birgit Lenger, a local naturopathic physician and mother, testified that pesticides can harm pregnant women at extremely low levels and that these toxic chemicals can have multi-generational effects. “This ordinance helps prevent harmful exposures to pesticides for all of us, and as a health care provider, I strongly support it.”