On January 18, 2008 the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) initiated consultation on a policy proposal notice of intent to introduce legislation that would ban the cosmetic use of pesticides in Ontario.
The following policy options were consulted on:
1. Determining the Scope of the Ban
The proposed ban would apply to cosmetic uses of pesticides, those intended to improve the appearance of lawns, gardens, parks and school yards. Do you have any comments on the proposed scope?
The proposed ban would allow pesticides to be used in situations where it is warranted to help ensure public health (for example, to fight West Nile virus). Are there other situations where the use of pesticides should be allowed?
2. Sale of Cosmetic Pesticides
Other jurisdictions have banned the sale of pesticides used solely for cosmetic purposes while municipalities in Ontario have regulated the use of certain pesticides. Should the province consider banning the sale of those pesticides used solely for cosmetic purposes?
It is proposed that uses of pesticides for the purposes of agriculture and managed forests would be exempt, as they are already governed by stringent rules on the storage and application of pesticides.
The government indicated that the focus of the ban would be on “towns and cities, and not on restrictions on rural residents.” Do you have any comments on this approach?
4. Exemptions for Golf Courses
It is proposed that golf courses would also be exempt, but would be required to develop plans to limit the environmental impact of pesticides. Should the government consider setting out minimum requirements for the plans developed by golf course owners/operators? What should the requirements include?
The government proposes to introduce legislation in the spring of 2008, with a phased-in implementation (e.g. 3 years).
On the basis of the consultation and the strong support from the public and health and environmental stakeholders for the proposed ban on the use and sale of pesticides for cosmetic purposes, a decision was made to introduce legislation to ban cosmetic pesticide use and sale as proposed in the policy notice with the following changes:
- The proposed ban on the sale of cosmetic use pesticides is strongly supported as the preferred approach with respect to eliminating the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. For this reason, a ban on the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides is proposed.
- Rural residents were proposed to be included in the ban to provide a consistent level of protection to human health, especially children’s health, regardless of where in the province children live.
- The strongest possible approach to the protection of human health, especially children’s health, would be an immediate implementation of the proposed ban by spring 2009 rather than a phased-in implementation. It is anticipated that the province-wide ban would take effect once regulations, that make the proposed ban operable, are in place. Delays may be encountered in the legislative process that would affect the timing of the proposed ban.
Comment(s) Received on the Proposal:
Public Consultation on the proposal for this decision was provided for 30 Days, from January 18, 2008 to February 17, 2008.
As a result of public consultation on the proposal, the Ministry received a total of 6997 comments: 1469 comments were received in writing and 5528 were received online.
Additionally, a copy of all comments are available for public viewing by contacting the Contact person listed in this notice.
Due to a system problem, additional comments were submitted via the on-line comment form after the comment period had ended. These comments were ultimately considered as if they had been received during the comment period.
In the decision-making process, the Ministry of the Environment took every reasonable step to ensure that all comments received during the comment period were considered.
The comments included:
- Provincial legislation should ban the use of pesticides on private lawns and gardens, parks and school yards for both urban and rural Ontario residents to provide the same level of protection to across the province regardless of where they reside.
- The ban should not include exceptions for forestry. Non-chemical alternatives are available and therefore pesticide use in forestry should be considered non-essential.
- The use of pesticides on golf courses is cosmetic and should not be exempt from the ban.
- If golf courses are allowed to continue to use pesticides then MOE should phase out pesticides use within 3-5 years. Also, many suggestions for requirements for plans to limit the environmental impact of pesticides by golf courses were submitted.
- There is no scientific basis to support a ban on cosmetic pesticide use. The ban should focus on the use of the product (i.e. responsible use restricted to trained applicators) and not on the product itself.
- Agriculture should not be exempted from the ban, or if exempted, should be required to limit environmental impact similar to those being proposed for golf courses. Government should provide incentives to agriculture to go organic or reduce pesticides use.
- Licensed pesticide applicators are subject to the same stringent rules as agriculturists and forestry and golf course applicators, yet they are not exempt from the ban. Industry stakeholders recommend that the ban should focus on responsible use, allowing trained applicators to use pesticides as part of an Integrated Pest Management approach, only when necessary.
- Other exemptions were suggested such as the use of pesticides to; protect urban trees, control invasive pests, manage vegetation on rights of ways, and control pest infestations on sports fields, lawn bowling greens and require similar plans to golf course requirements.
- The use of pesticides on golf courses, and in agriculture and forestry which are exempt from the ban could potentially contaminate water sources with pesticides and may impact abutting residential properties.
- There is a range of opinion regarding prohibitions on the use of pesticides to control pest infestations. Some suggest that there are no alternatives for the control of some pest infestations and this use should be exempt from the ban, while others are concerned that pest infestation exemptions will lead to misuse and should not be considered for lawns and gardens since there are alternatives to pesticides.
- Lower risk pesticides, such as those exempt from the municipal pesticide by-laws, should also be exempt from the cosmetic pesticide use ban.
- There was a range of opinions on phase-in the ban, some requested implementation as soon as possible while others concurred that the phase-in would be reasonable and would provide an opportunity for outreach and education.
In consideration of the extensive number of comments and the strong support for a ban on the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides, the government carried through on its commitment and introduced Bill 64, the proposed Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act on April 22, 2008.
The aim of the proposed ban is to take a prudent approach to reduce potential risk, especially to the most vulnerable members of our society, from the cosmetic uses of pesticides. Cosmetic uses are unnecessary and there are alternatives to pesticides to manage pests on the lawns, gardens, and parks.
It is anticipated that the province-wide ban would take effect once regulations, that make the proposed ban operable, are in place, possibly by spring of 2009. The strongest possible approach to the protection of human health, especially children’s health, would be an immediate implementation of the proposed ban by spring 2009. Delays may be encountered in the legislative process that would change the timing of the proposed ban.
The MOE has included rural residents in the proposed ban to provide a consistent level of protection to human health, especially children’s health, regardless of where in the province children live.
The MOE recognizes that golf courses require high performance standards for the playing surfaces and require some pesticide use to achieve such standards. The proposed ban would provide a conditional exception for pesticide use on golf courses. In order for a golf course to be excepted from the proposed ban, it would have to meet any conditions specified in regulation. Comments on suggested requirements for golf courses will be considered in the development of the regulations, if the Act is passed.
The use of pesticides in forestry is not to improve appearance or aesthetics and is therefore not included in the proposed ban. Instead, it helps to ensure the productivity of our forestry industry and the management of pests which could threaten our forests.
The proposed approach allows for additional regulatory requirements to be placed on any person using pesticides under the forestry exception. Forestry workers who use pesticides are required to meet stringent rules on the use, handling, storage and application of pesticides. If the Act is passed, the public will be consulted with respect to the development of a regulation, which would establish the uses related to forestry that are excepted from the proposed ban.
Pesticide uses in agriculture were excepted from the proposed ban because they are used to protect and enhance the reliability of commercial food production and make food products affordable. Additionally, farmers are required to take pesticide safety training and are governed by strict rules on the use and storage of pesticides.
Consideration will be given to suggestions for other exemptions received during the consultations in the development of a draft regulation. The bill includes a provision for “other prescribed uses” to accommodate the need for exemptions for other uses.
It is proposed that specific products banned for sale and use will be specified in regulation. The MOE has developed preliminary lists of pesticides to promote discussion about the types of pesticides that could be prescribed for the sale and use bans in the regulation. These lists are available at www.ontario.ca/pesticides