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Turf Pesticides

Recent advances in product technology and biological research have made natural or "organic" landscaping the preferred and responsible method of maintaining municipal properties. Once developed and properly implemented, a natural turf program costs less than a chemical program. Natural turf has far fewer pest infestation problems and is virtually indistinguishable from its non-organic competition.

The lawn chemicals typically used on fields have been associated with environmental contamination and significant human health problems, including certain cancers, neurological and developmental problems, reproductive harm and birth defects. Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to these problems.

East Meadow, NY natural playing field

The playing fields in East Meadow, New York, are maintained without using chemical pesticides. 

It's important to remember that an EPA registration number on a product does not mean that the product is safe, even when used as directed. Rather, it indicates that there are safety concerns that require registration and monitoring. Over the years, several products with EPA registrations have been banned. Several states have now passed legislation prohibiting the use of pesticides on school playing fields, and many communities have made the decision to stop using them on town-owned land.

Branford, CT's Parks Department maintains all 24 of the town’s fields without the use of chemical pesticides of fertilizers.

Ogunquit, ME banned the use of all turf pesticides on public lands in 2009.  Five years later, voters passed an ordinance banning the use of non-organic pesticides and herbicides on private lands as well.


Takoma Park, MD passed the Safe Grow Act which places restrictions on the use of cosmetic pesticides for lawn care on public and private property.


The Northeast Organic Farming Association, though its Organic Land Care program, has developed extensive standards for organic lawn care. They created an Organic Lawn Care Guide and offer certification through a five-day training course.

The Grassroots Organic Land Care program guide Natural Turf Management for Schools and Towns, instructs school professionals on how to maintain athletic fields without chemical pesticides.

View or download a sample Organic Pest Management policy for towns.

Visit the ChildSafe School Program to view a short video about pesticide-free fields.

Read a turf comparison report on chemical vs. organic turf management.


[1] Malakar, M., et al. (2016). Environmentally-Friendly Natural Turf for More Comfort for Users: A Review. IOSR Journal of Agriculture and Veterinary Science, 09(09), 09-15.

[2] Cheng, H., Hu, Y., & Reinhard, M. (2014). Environmental and Health Impacts of Artificial Turf: A Review. Environmental Science & Technology, 48(4), 2114-2129.

[3] Schneider, D., et al. (2014). Synthetic Turf vs. Natural Grass. Journal of Facility Planning, Design, and Management, 2(2), 81-84.

[4] Claudio, L. (2008). Synthetic Turf: Health Debate Takes Root. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(3).

[5] Landrigan, P. J., MD, MSc, FAAP. (2001) Pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): An analysis of the evidence that they impair children’s neurobehavioral development. Japanese Journal of Occupational Medicine and Traumatology, 49(2), 89-97.

[6] United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2018). About Pesticide Registration.

[7] Goldman, L. R. (2007). Managing Pesticide Chronic Health Risks: U.S. Policies. Journal of Agromedicine, 12(1), 67-75.

[8] Levin, R., et al. (2008). Lead Exposures in U.S. Children, 2008: Implications for Prevention. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(10), 1285-1293. 

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