Attn: Mayor Setti Warren Re: MBTA Herbicide spraying

Letter online at Don't spray 'em, Outsmart 'em.

Boston Globe: Newton group seeks end to herbicide use along Green Line

Massachusetts Plans to Spray Herbicides on Rights of Way

See other plans for Herbicide Spraying from Turnpike, Highway Department, Commuter Rail, AMEX, etc.

MBTA plans Herbicide Application in Newton -- DEJA VU!

Brief history:
Back in July 1995, GreenCAP received over 50 calls in response to the “public alert” that GreenCAP mailed to residents, day care centers, nursing homes and other property owners near the MBTA tracks.  The Newton Board of Aldermen passed a resolution requesting a public meeting. The scheduled spray was postponed. There was a large public meeting at the Newton Free Library with representatives of the MBTA, city officials and state representatives.

Both the public and city and state officials strongly objected to the MBTA’s pesticide use.  Citizens questioned the need for spraying. They expressed serious concerns about the hazards of the weed killers, Roundup and Oust, about the potential for pesticide drift and run off to surrounding properties, about the MBTA's lack of communication, and about the way the spraying would be conducted.

and...Nov. 4, 2006,  Dear Green Decade Board,
On November 2, 2006, an Allerton Road resident whose yard runs up to the MBTA fence line called to to tell us about the recent clear cutting and herbicide application of the MBTA tracks and slopes.  It was obvious from the devastation left behind on the right-of-way slopes in Newton Highlands and near Crystal Lake and beyond, that the vegetation control is not done in a scientific, horticultural, or public health-sensitive manner.
Apparently, areas previously protected from herbicide application no longer had protected status and advance notification to the public was limited to a single notice in the Boston Globe four months prior to the date of the herbicide spraying. The city of Newton was notified of weakened protections for waterways and wetlands in a single letter of 2000 sent to the Conservation Commissioner of Newton.

The resident, whose yard includes a compost pile and organic garden, was not notified of the spraying although, in the early 1990s, the Health Department had promised to alert her when the MBTA was going to use herbicides and her name was still on record.

In 1999, The Environmental League of Massachusetts, referencing a research review (15 pages, 183 citations) in the Journal of Pesticide Reform, Fall 1998, noted that Oust is one of a new generation of herbicides called sulfonylureas that are 100 times more toxic to weeds than their predecessors. These chemicals have been shown to cause serious crop plant damage when they drift away from target areas.  

Glyphosate has been measured in runoff four months after its application.  Glyphosate increases non-target plants' susceptibility to disease and reduces the growth of nitrogen-fixing bacteria.  It has reduced populations of beneficial insects, birds, and small mammals by destroying vegetation on which they depend for food and shelter. 


Green Decade Letter to Mayor Warren, November 2010

From Marcia Cooper, President, Green Decade/Newton

Dear Mayor Warren,

Green Decade appreciates the attention you have given to the importance of public safety in Newton. We have a concern on this topic, since becoming informed of the MBTA’s plan to spray hazardous herbicides along the tracks in Newton and Boston, Braintree, Brookline, Cambridge, Malden, Medford, Milton, Quincy, Revere and Somerville. Pesticides that are harmful to our health and the environment ought not to be used in our community.

There will be hearings November 15, 2010 regarding the MBTA’s Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) and a Yearly Operational Plan (YOP). Written comments will be accepted until December 9, 2010.

Green Decade supports the use of alternative non-chemical weed control methods, such as planting low maintenance vegetation and mechanical cutting that are proven to be both effective and economical.
With public safety as a high priority, we ask that you submit written comments urging the MBTA to revise its plan to spray along the MBTA tracks in Newton.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our request.

Marcia Cooper
President, Green Decade/Newton


A Green Glossary

Compilation of terms marketing green products: a "green" glossary 
 Source: Green Chemistry & Commerce Council, November 2010

There is no one organization that officially defines terms used in the marketing and sale of green products. Instead, there are a multitude of organizations ranging from government to industry to independent certifiers, to nonprofit organizations. This leaves consumers confused by what are often unwarranted or overblown claims of sustainability or environmental friendliness, a phenomenon known as greenwashing. Innovators and leaders in the production of sustainable products also struggle with greenwashing as they try to differentiate their products in the marketplace. In the absence of definitions of "green" or current guidelines for words and terms used to market and sell green products, product manufacturers making safer, more environmentally sustainable products have few tools to identify their products from others.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has attempted to establish baseline environmental marketing criteria with its "Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims," known as the "Green Guides;" but the latest update of these guides was published in 1998, with a 2009 update still to be released. There is currently a rising tide of legal and regulatory actions aimed at products pitched as "environmentally friendly," as consumers and the FTC have begun challenging whether such claims live up to their billing.

In an effort to gain some clarity about the definitions of terms commonly used to market and sell "green" products, the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3), a business to business network of firms across sectors dedicated to advancing safer chemicals and products has developed a "Green Glossary." Terms that are commonly used to market and sell green products were researched and a number of these were selected for inclusion in Version One of the Glossary. Initially, definitions of terms were gathered from various sources including government, industry, certifiers, and the nonprofit sector. The variety of definitions for single terms, none of which is "official" highlights the challenge that has made greenwashing so prevalent. For Version One of the Green Glossary we have included definitions most likely to be used and respected by companies trying to differentiate their products as safer. The definitions included are for the most part from either government or highly regarded non-profits.

The Glossary provides a definition or definitions of a term, the source of the definition - government, guideline, standard, label, industry, government, NGO - as well as a website, notes, and opportunities for misuse. The opportunities for misuse often illustrate the limitations of the definition.

Download the glossary


2010 Rachel Carson Award

The Environmental Issues Committee (EIC) presented the Rachel Carson Award to Garrett Brown and the Maquiladora Health and Safety Support Network (MHSSN) at AIHce 2010 in Denver, Colo. Brown is a founding member and primary coordinator for MHSSN activities.

MHSSN is a volunteer network of about 400 occupational health and safety professionals who have placed their names on a resource list to provide information, technical assistance and on-site instruction regarding workplace hazards in the 3,000 "maquiladora" (foreign-owned assembly) plants along the U.S.-Mexico border. Network members, including industrial hygienists, toxicologists, epidemiologists, occupational physicians and nurses, and health educators, among others, are donating their time and expertise to create safer and healthier working conditions for the one million maquiladora workers employed by primarily U.S.-owned transnational corporations along Mexico's northern border from Matamoros to Tijuana. Since 2000, the Network has expanded its work to include projects in Indonesia, China and Central America.

Established in 1987, the Rachel Carson Award is the highest honor bestowed upon an environmental health and safety (EHS) professional by the AIHA Environmental Issues Committee. It is presented to EHS individuals or groups who have attained outstanding success and distinction in their Environmental and Industrial Health and Safety business, profession or life's work.

The EIC is accepting nominations for the 2011 Rachel Carson Award, which will be presented at AIHce 2011 in Portland, Ore., May 11-15. If you or someone you know is a qualified recipient, please contact Patty Beach for more information or see the nomination form on the committee web page.