To the editor:
Bishop Matthew Clark’s back-to-school blessings and advice (Courier, August 2006) omitted one important subject. The Catholic schools in the Diocese of Rochester regularly use lawn chemicals, including herbicidal sprays and granules, that have been linked to global warming, air and water pollution, poisoning of wildlife and domestic animals, and to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, neurotoxic effects, attention deficit disorder, asthma, allergies and birth defects for humans.
Because children are 10 times more susceptible than adults to lawn chemicals’ hazards, all Catholic schools should immediately prohibit any more chemical applications on school grounds. Six years ago when New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer released “Pesticide Use at New York Schools,” which urged schools to avoid chemicals on their lawns or athletic fields, 37 percent of New York’s schools had already stopped using these chemicals outdoors (www.oag.state.ny.us). Catholic schools in the Diocese of Rochester should be part of this growing trend.
Spitzer said, “Pesticides pose health risks, even when used and applied in full compliance with manufacturer’s recommendations and legal requirements.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns, “All pesticides are toxic. The commonplace, widespread use of pesticides is both a major environmental problem and a public health issue.” And synthetic fertilizers also wreak havoc on our environment.
In the classrooms, young people learn the importance of healthy living, environmental protection, and preservation of protected species. Bishop Clark’s article noted that “kindness is one of the most important things we can practice if we truly want to follow Jesus.” So what kind of message will be conveyed to students if any schools maintain lawn care practices that are unkind to people, animals and the environment?
North Main Street