Synthetic pesticides are often used across the United States on public athletic fields and park areas to control weeds and various other pests. On these public recreational areas, the public is frequently unaware where a pesticide application has been made or which pesticide has been applied. Although some state laws require posting of a pesticide application, the allowable reentry period after an application varies with the product used.
There is a general increase in concern about the use of pesticides on landscapes and athletic fields. This concern has come about due to research showing pesticide exposure having a positive association with some forms of cancer (Bassil et al., 2007; Parrón et al., 2014); however, there is contrasting research that shows no linkage between pesticide exposure and cancer incidence in varying situations (De Roos et al., 2005; Niehoff et al., 2016). Furthermore, public concern has increased as lawsuits against pesticide manufacturers have made headlines. Perhaps the most well-known lawsuit is against Bayer AG (Pittsburgh, PA) and its product Roundup, whereby a lawsuit alleges that Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate is a carcinogen (Bellon, 2019).
Furthermore, the use of pesticides for the maintenance of school grounds has become a mounting point of concern because of the potential health impacts on citizens, particularly children, who may be exposed to the pesticides (Alarcon et al., 2005; Gilden et al., 2012). Currently, there is no evidence linking childhood cancer to pesticide exposure on school grounds or athletic fields (Chen et al., 2015; Gilden et al., 2012; Morgan et al., 2005; Niehoff et al., 2016). Notably, Chen et al. (2015) found no association between outdoor pesticide exposure and cancer, but increased cancer incidence with increased indoor pesticide exposure.
Although the linkage between pesticide exposure and health risks is not definitive, the rising public concern has led administrators and public policymakers to change public policy, whether warranted or not (Millington and Wilson, 2014). Notably, some state and local governments have severely restricted or banned pesticide use on school grounds, public areas, and even home lawns (Bachand and Gue, 2011; Hall, 2015; Hurley et al., 2014; Kowalewski et al., 2016; Owens, 2009; Sissell, 2005). In 2009, Ontario, Canada, passed the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, which outlawed the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes on lawns, gardens, hardscape surfaces, cemeteries, schools, and parks (Ontario Ministry of the Environment, 2009). Two U.S. states, Connecticut and New York, have completely banned pesticide usage on kindergarten to eighth grade school grounds (the New York ban is for grades kindergarten to 12), and at least 38 additional states have bans or limitations on the use of pesticides on school grounds (Hurley et al., 2014). The Connecticut ban took effect 1 July 2010 and applies to both public and private schools where kindergarten to eighth grades are present, as well as daycare centers (Connecticut General Assembly, 2009). On 1 Oct. 2015, the ban was extended to municipal playgrounds (Connecticut General Assembly, 2015).
As states put pesticide prohibitions in place, it is essential to gauge public awareness about pesticide bans, as well as to understand residents’ feelings and beliefs about the laws and other potential pesticide bans. Therefore, this research attempts to assess Connecticut residents’ awareness of the current pesticide ban. It also identifies these residents’ sentiments about the ban and the extent to which it should be applied. This study hypothesizes that residents currently have little awareness about the enacted pesticide ban; however, there would likely be wide support for a ban if the primary location was often frequented by children. This study takes a cursory look at which locations survey respondents believe a pesticide ban should be implemented.
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