Coalition Asks Federal Housing Agency to Cut Toxic Pesticide Use in Public Housing

Groups Joined by 11 State Attorneys General in Separate Petition

Statement by NRDC Attorney Adrianna Quintero

WASHINGTON (October 8, 2003) -- A coalition of environmental, housing and public health organizations, led by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), today filed a petition calling on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to comply with federal law by using safer pest management practices in public housing. Nationwide, 1.3 million families live in HUD-funded developments.

The coalition's petition asks HUD to require housing authorities to use "Integrated Pest Management," a method that eliminates pests without toxic pesticides. It relies on regular inspections; preventative actions such as installing screens, repairing structural damage and improved sanitation; and physical and mechanical controls, such as traps. Chemicals are used as a last resort and in limited quantities.

Children are particularly at risk from pesticide exposure because their neuro-muscular systems are still developing. Exposure to pesticides in the womb and during the first years after birth have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and brain and nervous system problems.

Attorneys general from 11 states and territories, including New York, California, Massachusetts and New Mexico, today filed a similar petition with HUD. (For more information, contact Marc Violette in the New York attorney general's office, 518-473-5525.)

Below is a statement by Adrianna Quintero, an NRDC staff attorney:

"This is an environmental justice issue. HUD's refusal to comply with the law jeopardizes the health of some of the most vulnerable Americans. The residents of public housing have the same right as everyone else to live healthy lives, and that means not being deliberately exposed to unnecessary toxic chemicals. Fortunately there are a range of safer alternatives, and HUD should require all public housing developments to use them."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 550,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.