September 5, 2018-
When Julie Taddeo moved to Takoma Park, Maryland, a progressive suburb outside of Washington D.C., and saw ubiquitous yellow flags marking the places where pesticide had recently been sprayed, she was surprised. “Everyone’s a treehugger here in, the Berkeley of the East,” she says. The warnings, which swarmed the lawns of homes and apartment buildings, playing fields, public parks, hospital grounds—and even school bus stops, seemed incongruous.
Concerned about her young daughter and the emerging science linking childhood pesticide exposure to pediatric cancer, asthma, and behavioral problems, Taddeo teamed up with a neighbor whose son suffered from asthma. The two began working with city council members to craft a law restricting the cosmetic use of pesticides on lawns on public and private property. Modeled on an Ontario law, Takoma Park’s Safe Grow Act passed in 2013, and it spurred an outpouring of interest across Montgomery County. “Moms started reaching out to us with their stories,” recalls Taddeo.