Cosmetic Pesticides in Montreal (October 2002)

The Mayor and Councillors of the Municipality of Montreal
City Hall of Montreal
275, Notre-Dame East, Office # 1.113
Montreal H2Y 1C6

Dear Mayor Tremblay and Councillors,

On behalf of our organization, which represents physicians, other health professionals, scientists and ordinary citizens from all across Canada – including a solid representation from Québec – I would like to endorse your plans to limit the use of chemical pesticides within the boundaries under your jurisdiction.

We endorse such a restriction because we believe it is necessary to safeguard the well-being of the community as a whole, both human and non-human. Children in particular are known to be especially vulnerable to environmental toxins. Therefore, invoking the precautionary principle, we feel it is imperative that they should be protected from unnecessary exposure to pesticides.

Exposure to various pesticides has been shown, in many studies, to pose short and long-term health risks. These include neuro-developmental disturbances, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption, and cancer. As a physician’s group, we are acutely aware of these problems, and feel a moral responsibility to alert others to the inherent dangers of pesticide use.

It is worth noting that some of your citizens have already chosen not to use pesticides. However, their choice to do so is infringed upon by other citizens who still use such chemicals, since pesticide distribution extends far beyond either target species or areas.

We endorse the idea of a bylaw eliminating non-essential, cosmetic landscape and garden pesticides within the Municipality of Montreal. We accept the need for a special provision that pesticide use be allowed in the extremely rare instance of a life-threatening infestation which fails to respond to all non-toxic alternatives, competently employed .

We would suggest further that sustainable alternatives to synthetic chemical pesticides (i.e., herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides, etc) be encouraged, and that the city provide education programs outlining and promoting the use of such alternatives.

Restricting the use of cosmetic chemical pesticides will ultimately have significant health benefits, and reduce health care costs. In addition, reducing the overall burden of toxins in the environment will contribute to the health of future generations. Such a measure, carried out in a major metropolis like Montréal, will benefit all citizens of Québec, and set a strong example of leadership. Ultimately, directly and indirectly, it will benefit all citizens of this planet.

We congratulate you for your initiative and foresight, and pledge our support, in any way that may be helpful to you, now and in the future.


Warren Bell MD


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