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Tuesday, May 12, 2015
MoCo Councilmembers to county hospitals: Stop using pesticides
The Montgomery County Council has yet to pass a controversial bill that would limit the use of many common pesticides on lawns, athletic fields and public green spaces in the county. But Councilmembers Roger Berliner (D-District 1) and George Leventhal (D-At-Large) are twisting the arms of hospitals in the county, asking them to cease using pesticides now. The councilmen sent executives of those hospitals a letter Monday.
“We are writing today to ask that hospitals in our County assume a leading role in increasing awareness of the health concerns regarding pesticides by voluntarily agreeing to eliminate their use on hospital grounds,” wrote Councilmembers Leventhal and Berliner. “As you know, in 2013, Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park ceased using insecticides or herbicides in advance of the Takoma Park City Council passing its ordinance restricting pesticide use. We believe it is time for every hospital to take a similar stance.”
According to County Council spokesperson Neil Greenburger, the recipients of the letter were Terry Forde, the President and CEO of Adventist Healthcare; Gene Green, President of Suburban Hospital; Peter Monge, President of MedStar Montgomery Medical Center; Kevin Sexton, President and CEO of Holy Cross Health; and Kurt Newman, President of Children’s National Health System.
Leventhal is currently President of the Council, Chairman of the Council's Health and Human Services Committee, and is the lead sponsor of the pesticide bill.
Here is the complete text of the letter:
May 11, 2015
As you may be aware, the Montgomery County Council is currently considering a range of measures that would, if adopted, significantly reduce the use of pesticides in our County. This effort is driven in large part by concerns that have been raised by the medical community about the potential negative impacts of exposure to pesticides on human health.
There are strong signals from leading medical professionals that there is a fundamental need to reduce the amount of pesticides to which individuals are exposed. In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics found that
“Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity. Acute poisoning risks are clear, and understanding of chronic health implications from both acute and chronic exposure are emerging. Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems.”
Earlier this year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate, a commonly used pesticide, was “probably carcinogenic.”
We are writing today to ask that hospitals in our County assume a leading role in increasing awareness of the health concerns regarding pesticides by voluntarily agreeing to eliminate their use on hospital grounds. As you know, in 2013, Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park ceased using insecticides or herbicides in advance of the Takoma Park City Council passing its ordinance restricting pesticide use. We believe it is time for every hospital to take a similar stance.
Regardless of how broader questions about pesticide regulation are resolved by our Council, your taking this step would help to reduce pesticide exposure for some of our most vulnerable residents, and more broadly, would increase awareness in our community as to its potential harmful effects.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.
Photo of Leventhal: Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row
Photo of Berliner courtesy of County Council website