Md. must track pesticide use

January 30, 2013

A growing body of research underscores that pesticides impact not just public health but also the Chesapeake Bay ("Report finds widespread contaminants in the bay," Jan. 22). A recent federal report, created in response to the same presidential executive order that created the current Chesapeake Bay restoration plan, also noted serious data gaps about pesticides widely dispersed in the bay.

The 2013 Maryland Pesticide Information Act addresses the essential need for state and health experts to have access to important basic information on when and where potentially toxic chemicals are applied by pesticide applicators. And Marylanders support this: A January 2013 poll conducted by Opinion Works showed that 8 out of 10 Marylanders favor legislation requiring farmers and lawn care companies to provide pesticide information.

We need our experts to be able to identify which pesticides may or may not be related to illness clusters — including cancer, birth defects, autism — or intersex fish in our waterways. Now is the time for Maryland to fill the data gaps on pesticides.

Ruth Berlin, Annapolis

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Pesticide Network.

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