Mary Cheh aims to protect people from pesticides


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First, D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) made it a bit easier for small animals to avoid a death sentence when they wander into a District residents homes or back yards.

Now, Cheh is asking council colleagues to make it bit harder to kill pesky bugs, arguing there should be more regulation of potentially harmful pesticides.

What's under your kitchen sink? Hopefully not these guys! At the Maryland Science Center exhibit, "Harry's Big Adventure: My Bug World," pretend to be a terminator and find the bugs, like these cockroaches, living in the house. (Courtesy Maryland Science Center) The council will vote Tuesday on a bill that instructs the D.C. Department of the Environment to identify classes of pesticides that may pose a health risk and are deemed not-essential for protecting public health or property.

Those chemicals would then be banned from use in city schools, District government buildings, child care centers and within 25 feet of any body of water. When certain pesticides are used at a home or business, nearby residents would have to be notified prior to application.

And to try to wean District residents and pest-control specialists off all sorts of pesticides, the bill requires the University of the District of Columbia to hold classes and neighborhood meetings to inform residents how they can control insects without relying solely on chemicals.

The classes will be funded by increasing registration fees for licensed applicators from $130 to $200 per year.

Pesticides are dangerous and they cause illnesses, said Cheh. They affect our health seriously.

But some residents and chemical manufactures warn the bill could make it harder to control roaches, ants, bed bugs and other insects. And like most major cities, the battle against the bug in the District rarely subsides.

The proposed measure would take away U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved pest control products that I rely on to protect my family from pests such as rats, mice, cockroaches and bed bugs, said Kate Shenk, a Van Ness resident who advises the pesticides industry. These pests can carry diseases and cause unsafe living and working conditions.

But Cheh notes that her proposal does not apply to private homes or businesses. She also notes that the bill includes a process under which the Department of the Environment can issue a waiver if a certain pesticide is needed to control insect infestation.

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Mary Cheh aims to protect people from pesticides

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