Senators Josh Green and Mike Gabbard to hear Bills on the Health Impact of Pesticides

Honolulu (February 9, 2015) - Senator Josh Green, M.D. (D - Kona, Kau), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, and Senator Mike Gabbard (D - Kapolei, Makakilo), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, have scheduled a joint hearing on SB 793, RELATING TO THE HEALTH IMPACT OF PESTICIDES, which would establish mandatory notice, reporting, and use requirements when pesticides are applied outdoors near sensitive areas.

The hearing will be held on Thursday, February 12 at 3:00 PM in Room 414 of the State Capitol, and will include SB1037 and SB797, which also deal with the health impact of pesticides by requiring notice, reporting, and disclosure of pesticide use near sensitive areas.

“Exposure to pesticides has been linked to diseases from autism to cancer,” Green said, "and may be especially harmful to children and pregnant women, so it is very important for us to take steps to protect Hawaii's most sensitive populations from the risks of pesticide exposure.”

Children are the most vulnerable to toxic exposure of pesticides because it can disrupt critical development processes, and pesticide exposure early in life has been linked to long-term health effects including cancer, serious diseases, decreased cognitive function, and behavior problems. According to a recently published report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, their main concerns for children are increased risk of childhood cancers, neurobehavioral and cognitive deficits, adverse birth outcomes, and asthma all due to pesticide exposure.

Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, a study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute has found. The associations were stronger when the exposures occurred during the second and third trimesters of the women’s pregnancies.

"The people of Hawai‘i have the right to decide that the risks of toxic pesticides are unacceptable, and to take action to reduce and prevent their potential negative impacts,” Green said. "The State has the legal authority to address local pesticide use and its impacts on our keiki and kupuna."

At least 26 schools in Hawaii are located within a mile of large agricultural companies that spray restricted-use pesticides. Many residents, including children, have complained about sickness they attribute to pesticide drift. Hawaii is one of 19 states that does not have regulations addressing the impacts of pesticide use on or near schools.

Senators Green and Gabbard have both made environmental health a policy priority, particularly the health impact of pesticides.

“I’m very pleased that we’re hearing these important bills that seek to better regulate pesticide use in our islands,” Senator Gabbard said. "In addition to the big impacts that pesticides have on human health, we also have to focus on the damage that pesticides wreak on our lands and water supply. It’s time for the state to take this more seriously.”

“Our children deserve to grow up, go to school, and play outside without being exposed to toxic pesticides,” Green said, “and these bills will prevent unnecessary exposure to our most sensitive populations around schools, hospitals, and child care facilities. There’s no reason for us to risk our children’s health by exposing them to toxic chemicals, when we can protect Hawaii's kids without hurting farmers.”

Green is an Emergency Room doctor with 15 years of experience caring for Hawaii’s families.

“The courage to do the right thing is all that matters," Green said. "It’s time for us to make the right choice for Hawaii’s kids."