February 5, 2010
4th grader wows scientists with her artificial vs. natural
As you may know many thousands of acres of plastic tufted carpet with
pulverized tires between the tufts (aka "artificial or synthetic
turf) have been installed on a thick base of rocks after removal of tons
of soil, all over the US. Many concerns have been raised about the health
and safety of both these plastic/rubber fields and the conventionally
maintained grass fields they usually replaced (both environmental and
This is an ambitious study (110 samples from 5 natural and 5 artificial
turf fields throughout a year) by a scientist at the University of CA-
Santa Cruz and the fourth grade soccer-playing student who inspired it,
to look at contaminants in run-off from both natural and artificial turf
fields- both types have environmental problems ( phosphates and nitrogen
from natural turf fields- which can be eliminated as she notes by using
organic and sustainable practices ; the leachate from all the artificial
turf fields she tested had much higher levels of the other contaminants
she tested for: zinc, copper, cobalt, cadmium.) Since unlike the external
applications of fertilizers to natural turf fields which can be eliminated,
the artificial turf contaminants are integral to the synthetic plastic/rubber
rug fields and so they cannot be eliminated unless they use totally different
materials for the artificial turf. Only run-off from artificial turf run-off
killed the aquatic organism, Daphnia some of which in a stunning photo
are also shown to have ingested pellets (answering one of the questions
we have asked about the hazards of these pellets when they enter an aquatic
Many of us have been advocating for organic maintenance of natural turf
fields and, as is done in many states, capture and reuse of stormwater
for irrigation as needed. So Clair's studies help to add fuel to the argument
for 21st century sustainable, state of the art natural turf fields are
the answer to conventionally installed and maintained grass NOT artificial
turf with its own substantial known and as yet unknown problems.
It would be great to correspond with Claire and Dr. Payton to get all
the details. Follow up studies might be done comparing natural turf fields
organically maintained. Of interest also would be if any differences were
detected (or if the protocol could detect) changes in contaminant levels
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
4th grader wows scientists with her artificial vs. natural turf research
Which is more environmentally friend, artificial grass or living grass?
Schools and communities across the United States are debating the issue
because of the growing popularity of synthetic turf on sports fields,
home lawns and other areas formerly covered by turfgrass. Proponents of
both point to the many “green” benefits of their respective
type of grass. The stakes, environmental and financial, are high because
of the tens of millions of acres of turfgrass on our home lawns, parks,
sports fields, commercial and industrial properties.
So, who’s right? The synthetic crowd that pounds on the fact that
their grass doesn’t need fertilizers, pesticides, mowing or water?
(Although it would be foolish to install synthetic turf without a ready
source of water to clean it or, in the case of sports fields, cool it.)
Or the proponents of real, living grass who promote the heat-mitigating,
dust-capturing, runoff-capturing benefits of real grass?
Along comes 9-year-old, 4th grade student by the name of Claire Dworsky
and she nails it. With the help of research professor Adina Payton of
UC Santa Cruz, she puts together an incredible research project comparing
the two surfaces.
As I soccer player and environmentalist, I looked down and I see the runoff
water off the turf is murky,” Claire told KGO-TV science reporter
Carolyn Johnson in a recent interview. Claire collected water samples
from grass and artificial turf fields (hundreds of them from both) across
San Francisco, then she and Dr. Payton analyzed the findings in the lab.
February 5, 2010
Lawn care firms seek legal action; They say Ontario's
cosmetic pesticide ban is contradictory and not based on science
BYLINE: BY PATRICK GALLAGHER, ONTARIO FARMER
A firm that represents lawn care companies is trying
to bring charges against the Ontario Environment Minister over the province's
pesticide ban that was implemented last year.
Jeffrey Lowes, who runs a Kingston-based consulting firm representing
lawn care companies, filed a "private information" legal manoeuvre
in Kingston Provincial Court last week against Environment Minister
John Gerretsen and five of his top bureaucrats at the environment department.
His legal filing is a sworn allegation made before a Judge or Justice
of the Peace that suggests some kind of offense has been committed.
Lowes said last week his filing alleges the environment minister and
his bureaucrats failed to "exercise their assigned fiduciary responsibilities
by not taking reasonable care to ensure that the Ministry of Environment
complies with the Pest Control Products Act and its regulations and
did thereby commit an offence contrary to section 70 subsection 2 of
Control Products Act."
The Pest Control Products Act is the federal legislation that governs
pesticide products in Canada. Lowes alleges the Ontario's government cosmetic
pesticide ban has resulted in serious violations of sections of the federal
law governing pesticide products.
He pointed to an organic pesticide called Neemoil that is approved for
use in Ontario by the provincial government. That product, used to control
lawn pests, contains an active ingredient called Azadirchtin that is not
approved for use by federal regulators.
He said if lawn applicators use the organic product they are violating
federal regulations. If they use federally approved pesticide products
they will violate Ontario regulations.
" What we are saying is the industry is stuck between the two. There is
something fundamentally wrong with the system."
He said the Ontario government's cosmetic pesticide ban, which went into
effect in April, 2008, is based on methodology and information that has
no scientific rigour to support it.
The action taken by Lowes has to be endorsed by the Provincial Court before
it can proceed. If that happens it could result in federal charges being
filed against Gerretsen and others in the environment department by police
or by a private individual.
Lowes expects to be back in court on Feb. 17 for a hearing.
Lowes said lawn care companies generated $1.26 billion in revenues providing
lawn care services in Ontario in 2007. He said the industry used to provide
almost 21,000 jobs but a least a third of those jobs are now gone as a
result of the province's cosmetic pesticide ban.
He said up to 10 per cent of lawn care businesses will not reopen in Ontario
in 2010 and a further 20 to 30 per cent are facing bankruptcy.
December 16, 2009
Congressional Hispanic Caucus sets its sights on comprehensive
immigration and H-2B reform
On December 15, 2009, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and several other
members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus held a press conference
the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and
Prosperity (CIR-ASAP) Act of 2009 (H.R. 4321 ). The bill contains problematic
H-2B provisions along the lines of those proposed in past legislation
introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
A summary of the bill includes the following statements about the H-2B
The H-2B visa program is reformed to prevent the exploitation of H-2B
non-immigrant workers and the depression of wages as well as other workplace
abuses committed by exploitative employers. Reforms to the program include:
* Imposing stricter requirements for recruitment of American workers.
* Preventing employers from participating in the program if they have conducted
a mass layoff in the past year.
* Strengthening worker protections.
This legislation would also give the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants
living in the United States immediate legal status and a path to earned citizenship
if they register with the government and attest “to contributions to the
United States” through employment, education, military service, or other
volunteer service. They would also be required to complete a criminal and security
background check and pay a $500 fine plus application fees.
The bill also includes AgJOBS and would give children of undocumented workers
an accelerated path to citizenship. In addition, it would create a Commission
on Immigration and Labor Markets to determine the future flow of foreign workers
into the United States. The commission would recommend to Congress and the White
House appropriate methods for determining levels of employment-based immigration
visas. Rather than creating a non-seasonal temporary worker program, the bill
would allow 100,000 visas to be issued through a lottery and also includes provisions
related to employee verification and border security
Congressional leaders continue to state that Congress will focus on immigration
reform early next year. Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham
(R-S.C.) are working on a Senate version of the bill. Discussions are also occurring
in the House but are not as far along as those in the Senate.
PLANET continues to be engaged with lawmakers and various coalitions to promote
reasonable immigration reform that addresses the needs of seasonal employers.
Check out statements on the Gutierrez bill from the H-2B Workforce Coalition,
of which PLANET is a member. This bill affects all companies that use H-2B workers
and those that have employees who may not have supplied legal employment paperwork
to employers. H.R. 4321 is 644 pages long and will take more time to review.
We will inform you if any coordinated action is planned.
Director of Government Affairs
Professional Landcare Network (PLANET)
(703) 736-9668 (fax)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2009
EPA Releases Final Specification for WaterSense New Homes
This will help homeowners increase water efficiency and save on their utility
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released
its final WaterSense single-family new homes specification today, creating
the first national, voluntary, water-efficiency specification for an
entire new home.
Home builders can now partner with EPA and earn the WaterSense label for
their newly built homes, helping to create livable communities and quality
homes that are easy to maintain,” said Peter S. Silva, assistant administrator
for EPA’s Office of Water. “These homes will save homeowners
as much as $200 a year on utility bills compared to their current homes.”
EPA worked with hundreds of stakeholders over the past three years to develop
this specification, which was designed to complement existing green building
programs. WaterSense labeled new homes, which will be 20 percent more efficient
than typical new homes, must be independently inspected and certified by
an EPA licensed certification provider to meet the WaterSense criteria for
water efficiency and performance.
The new homes will feature WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures, Energy
Star qualified appliances (if installed), water-efficient landscaping,
and hot water delivery systems that deliver hot water faster, so homeowners
don’t waste water—or energy—waiting at the tap.
By investing in WaterSense labeled homes, American home buyers can reduce
their water usage by more than 10,000 gallons per year—enough to fill
a backyard swimming pool—and save enough energy annually to power
a television for four years.
If the approximately 1.27 million new homes built in the United States each
year were WaterSense labeled, it would save more than 12 billion gallons
With this announcement, EPA is inviting home builders to join the WaterSense
program and commit to building water-efficient new homes.
WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the
future of our nation's water supply by offering people simple ways to use
More information on WaterSense labeled new homes: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/spaces/new_homes.html
To see a video message about the WaterSense new homes specification: http://www.epa.gov/multimedia/playercontents/video/watersense/index.html
December 8, 2009
EPA to Strengthen Oversight of Pesticide's Impact on Children and
Farmworkers (News Release)
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to
strengthen its assessment of pesticide health risks. EPA's proposal
would include a more thorough assessment of risks to workers, including
farmworkers and farm children, as well as risks posed by pesticides that
are not used on food. The agency is asking the public to comment on the
new approach and how best to implement the improvements.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has made it a top priority to ensure
that the agency is working to protect Americans. She said: "Better
information and applying these tools will strengthen EPA's protections
for farm workers exposed to these chemicals, and children living in and
around the areas of highest possible exposure," said EPA Administrator
Lisa P. Jackson. "It's essential we have the tools to keep everyone,
especially vulnerable populations like children, safe from the serious
health consequences of pesticide exposure."
Under the policy, EPA risk assessments for children, farmworkers and
others, would consider aggregate pesticide exposures from all sources in
addition to the cumulative effects from multiple pesticides that have
similar toxicity. EPA also would apply an additional safety factor to
protect infants and children from the risks of pesticides where the
available data are incomplete. Currently these analyses help assess
risks of pesticides to the general public as required by the Federal
Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
EPA believes that pesticide exposure should be evaluated with common
scientific risk-assessment techniques, whether from residues in food or
drinking water, on lawns or in swimming pools, or in the workplace. The
agency would routinely apply the techniques to workers exposed to
pesticide exposures on the job. By incorporating these risk-assessment
tools into its pesticide evaluations, the agency would more thoroughly
protect the most vulnerable populations, including farm workers and
children taken into agricultural fields.
The proposed policy will be available for a 60-day public comment period
after it is published in the Federal Register.
More information on the proposed rule:
CONTACT: email@example.com 202-564-7839; 202-564-4355
For the Spanish translation of this press release, visit