- Safe Playing Fields Act
- Reducing Vehicle Emissions in Your Town
- Reducing Pollution through Integrated Pest Management
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) pose a serious and worsening threat not only to the environment but also to human health and safety, quality of life and the economy. About 40 percent of New Jersey's total carbon footprint comes from the transportation sector, with on-road gasoline consumption comprising the great majority of those emissions.
Under a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency, ANJEC worked with the Environmental Commissions in Leonia and Red Bank to develop educational programs to reduce vehicle emissions. The communication concepts and tools created for these programs are designed to be adapted for use in other communities.
The science overwhelmingly shows that GHGs contribute to climate change, leading to a host of challenging results, including:
- more severe and frequent storms with their resulting loss of life and damage to property and infrastructure;
- sea level rise and its associated loss of coastal lands and habitat;
- health impacts due to food and water scarcity, heat-related deaths and insect borne diseases;
- threats to endangered species and unique systems.
Human activity accounts for much of the greenhouse gas production on our planet. The GHGs emitted include CO2, CH4, nitrous oxide (N2O), and several others.
Burning fossil fuels is the activity most responsible for the amount and rate of climate change, with the transportation sector contributing more greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey than any other activity.
Other health effects
While a changing climate will likely cause many serious health risks, our society’s dependence on vehicles can jeopardize human health in other ways.
The chemicals in car and truck exhaust contribute to cancer, asthma, heart disease and a host of other life-threatening diseases.
In New Jersey, no county has ever achieved the level of air quality required by the National Clean Air Act set in 1990. Fine particle pollution from exhaust alone may cause more premature deaths in New Jersey than homicides and car accidents combined.
Auto emissions result in up to 46,000 cases of chronic respiratory illness and 40,000 premature deaths each year nationwide. Recent research shows that just sitting in heavy traffic for up to an hour can triple heart attack risk.
Children are especially vulnerable to the unhealthy effects of exhaust because they breathe up to 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than adults.
On 2007, the US Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases constitute air pollution and are therefore subject to regulation by the US Environmental Protection Agency. On June 26, 2012, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (DC Court) rejected all challenges to EPA's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and paved the way for a possible appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
The obesity rate in New Jersey has increased more than 90 percent over the last 15 years, and among the culprits is a lack of physical exercise. Obesity is a known risk factor for a whole host of serious health conditions, while increased physical activity reduces the risk of premature death, coronary heart disease, hypertension, colon cancer and diabetes. In countries where people do more walking and cycling, the rate of obesity is much lower than in the US. More than three in five New Jersey adults are overweight or obese, and over 15 percent of the state’s children and adolescents are considered obese.
Not coincidentally, more than one in three youngsters do not participate in regular physical activity. Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between obesity and sedentary lifestyle.
Reduce vehicle-miles traveled
Improve fuel efficiency
- eco-driving techniques
- alternative fuel vehicles
- regular car maintenance
- Don’t idle more than 20 seconds
The Leonia Environmental Commission was created in 1972, making it one of the
first environmental commissions in New Jersey. Leonia is a very compact, walkable community in Bergen County, just over a mile square. Air pollution from vehicle emissions is a particular concern thanks to the town’s location adjacent to the New Jersey Turnpike and I-80 and less than two miles from the George Washington Bridge.
While emissions from these major highways are outside the control of local residents, there is an opportunity to address locally generated emissions. About 74 percent of Leonia residents drive to work and most children are driven to school because there is not courtesy busing for local students.
Recognizing an opportunity to increase walking and biking in Leonia, the Environmental Commission completed a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan in 2011 and set a goal to examine ordinances and make recommendations to increase bicycle and pedestrian activity and enhance safety.
Members of the Leonia Environmental Commission, the Green Team and an ANJEC representative met several times to discuss a variety of possible approaches for an educational program to reduce local vehicle emissions. The team decided on a campaign to reduce vehicle dependence and get people walking more in Leonia.
Get out of your car, Leonia!
The annual Health Fair is a major event in Leonia, attracting about 1,000 people of all ages. The project team decided to seize the opportunity to launch the Walk Leonia campaign by sponsoring a booth at the event.
The display focused on the health impacts of vehicle emissions as well as the benefits of getting more exercise.
The Commission printed and handed out “Get Out of Your Car” stickers to people passing the booth. Visitors also received a half-page handout that offers startling statistics about vehicle emissions and a list of small changes people can make with resulting CO2 savings.
The team also developed a PowerPoint presentation for use in talking with local groups, especially schools, about participating in the program.
A Commission member designed a campaign logo, and the team planned a walking map of Leonia as a means of encouraging more people to walk to local destinations instead of driving. The map includes a handy diary for children to journal their walks around town.
The map was produced as part of a brochure that also offers information on the harmful effects of vehicle dependence. In addition, the brochure features a chart showing how little time it takes to walk to popular destinations around town.
In anticipation of Leonia Day, a series of press releases on various aspects of reducing emissions were sent to local media.
The Commission introduced the Walk Leonia map in May at the town’s annual Leonia Day. A reporter with Leonia Life wrote an article about the program. To attract people to the Commission booth the team gave children a bright orange compass/whistle, a perfect complement to the map when navigating walks around town.
Commission members invited visitors at the event booth to respond to a brief survey designed to get people thinking about their own opportunities to introduce more walking into their own lives.
The Commission is now collaborating with the Home and School Association to incorporate the new walking map into their plans to introduce Walk to School Days in Leonia schools in the fall.
Enhancements are envisioned for the next generation of the walking map. The Commission plans to invite local businesses to sponsor a reprint that pinpoints local establishments and historical points of interest.
- Layout of display
- Column header panels
- Auto dependency is making us fat
- Diesel particulate risk
- Pollution index by town
- Health effects of air pollution
- What you can do
- Dependence on driving is making us fat and sick
- Walk or bike to school
- Car maintenance: Small changes make a difference
- No idling
- Eco driving
Red Bank is a vibrant community in Monmouth County. It is fairly compact, with a population of about 12,000 within a total area of 1.75 square miles. Transit options in Red Bank include its own train station and bus depot with ferry terminals less than 20 minutes away in Middletown and Atlantic Highlands.
The Red Bank Environmental Commission kicked off the project by hosting a “town meeting” in October 2011 to gain input and support from a variety of community representatives. An overview presentation was followed by a lively discussion that yielded a list of ideas. The team decided to focus their efforts on two primary themes: carpooling and reducing idling.
Working with CarpoolWorld, a free carpool online database, as a platform, the team created Red Bank’s own branded carpool matching service and named it RED(uce)BANK. A local student designed the logo. The RED(uce) Bank web site enables residents to register for free, and enter their starting point, destination and other commuting parameters into the system. CarpoolWorld automatically notifies members of any matches and continues to do so periodically. (CarpoolWorld has offered to work with other environmental commissions to create branded pages for their towns for a nominal charge.)
The Environmental Commission launched the program, with an Earth Day event at a local middle school, where residents could sign up on the spot for RED(uce) BANK and receive a branded lime green water bottle. Visitors were also invited to sign a No-Idling pledge.
To announce the Earth Day event, the Commission designed and distributed a flyer, sent out press releases to local media, and posted notices on various town web sites. Numerous other environmental attractions helped boost attendance, including music, food, games and crafts for the kids, gardening demonstrations, a local expert teaching bicycle maintenance and repair, an environmental art display and a solar-powered Chevy Volt on display.
To keep the campaign in the public eye, the team developed a free standing display that can be placed in high traffic areas indoors or outside. An accompanying rack card with a Spanish translation on the back side urges residents to enroll in CarpoolWorld, provides three other important ways to reduce vehicle emissions and includes other sources of information on emissions reduction. QR codes on both the display and brochure enable people to quickly get to the RED(uce) BANK web site by simply holding their smart phone in front of the code. The Commission has been setting up the display at local farmers markets and at key locations around town.
Communities around New Jersey have tackled the issue of vehicle emissions in a variety of ways:
- Walk to school programs
- Anti-idling programs
- Alternative transportation programs
- NJ Department of Transportation Ridesharing Program
- NJDOT Smart Workplaces program recognizes companies that encourage fuel-smart alternative commuting by employees
- NJ Transit Bike and Ride services
- EZride carpool, vanpool and shuttle services for businesses, colleges, universities and municipalities
- Carpool World free carpool matching service
- NJ alternative fuel station locations
- Green spaces preferred parking concept of the American Jewish Committee
Here are some information sources that may be helpful in making the case for efforts to reduce vehicle emissions in your town:
- What does it really cost per mile to drive your car? “Cost of owning and operating vehicle in U.S. increased 1.9 percent”
- “Car fumes 'raise heart attack risk for six-hour window”
- World Health Organizations confirms diesel fumes cause cancer
- “Getting there greener: Can changing the way your travel on vacation significantly reduce your contribution to global warming?”
- Data sources
- “Danger in the air: Unhealthy air days in 2010 and 2011,” Environment New Jersey
- “Air toxics in New Jersey,” NJ Department of Environmental Protection, 2005 diesel particulate risk in NJ from mobile sources
- “Promoting safe walking and cycling to improve public health,” Rutgers (includes great graphic showing that obesity rate falls sharply in countries with increased walking cycling and transit use.)
- Statistics demonstrating the environmental advantages of biking vs. driving, Bikes Belong
- Health effects of common air pollutants
- Programs and materials from other states (1e.7)
- Drive a Clean Machine program in Texas encourages replacing or repairing older gas guzzlers for fuel efficient vehicles
- Brochure on reducing air pollution from vehicles in Vermont
- Idaho brochure on 5 ways to reduce emissions from vehicles
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) aims to control the insects and diseases that attack crops and landscape plants while minimizing economic, health and environmental risks. It emphasizes natural and safe methods, using a combination of prevention, avoidance, monitoring and suppression strategies that use physical, horticultural, and biological treatments. It uses chemicals as a last resort and then only those with the least adverse environmental impact.
A successful IPM program strives to:
- Reduce costs through reduced pesticide use;
- Reduce evolutionary pressures from resistant insect populations;
- Provide benefits through the use of self-perpetuating biological control organisms;
- Conserve energy;
- Reduce public health and environmental hazards of organic chemicals.
Pesticides are poisonous chemicals designed to kill a variety of plants or animals. Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides and fungicides. Both the active chemical compounds and the inert ingredients in pesticides may ultimately be toxic to humans and wildlife.
In general, pesticide use can impose many health and environmental risks. Continued dependence on pesticides has caused the evolution of strains of insects with a high resistance to pesticides. Outbreaks of secondary pests due to the destruction of their natural controls and, damaging impacts on wildlife have occurred because of concentrations of pesticides in various food chains.
The toxic chemicals in pesticides can be absorbed through the skin, swallowed, and/or inhaled. Many pesticides are suspected to cause birth defects, cancer, or gene mutation in humans and other animals. They can also cause headaches, dizziness, stomach and intestinal upsets, numbness of hands and feet, spasms, convulsions and heart attacks. Children, pregnant women and people with chemical sensitivities and/or asthma may be at a particularly high risk from pesticide exposure.
During routine residential applications, pesticides can drift and settle on ponds, laundry, toys, pools and furniture among other household items. They can also make their way into homes when family members and pets pick up toxic residues and track them inside. Even pesticides that the US Environmental Protection Agency has approved for residential use can and do pollute streams, rivers and the water we drink. Sometimes people do not follow the precautions on pesticide labels and apply them recklessly to their homes and gardens in large quantities even when insects or diseases have not inflicted significant damage. Generally, only a small percentage of pesticides actually reach the target. The remainder often contaminates runoff and/or dissipates in the air. It is appropriate to ask, “Are pesticides really worth it?”
How IPM Helps the Environment
Integrated Pest Management minimizes environmental impacts by using environmentally friendly methods to control pests. IPM’s preventative, monitoring, and controlling techniques serve as an alternative to routine, indiscriminate spraying of chemical pesticides. IPM techniques enhance sustainability of vital natural systems and help promote lawns, trees and shrubs that are more resistant to insects and disease. IPM protects beneficial insects since it uses little or no pesticides. IPM also reduces threats to wildlife and water quality by lessening the amount of chemicals that will reach our drinking and recreational water resources.
Pest prevention is a fundamental IPM concept. Prevention involves removing the conditions that might attract a pest or disease or provide it with the food and environment it needs to thrive.
- Adjust planting dates to avoid certain insect life stages;
- Rotate crops to reduce pest populations;
- Practice good housekeeping indoors and out to reduce food and shelter for pests;
- Plant native species, disease and insect resistant varieties in appropriate places;
- Monitor regularly for signs of damage.
Some plants need full sun, some do better in shade. Some grow best in sandy soils, others in clay or wetlands. Some need a lot of fertilizer, others very little. Nothing does well surrounded by weeds that compete for light, fertility and water and often harbor insects and diseases. When selecting annuals, perennials, shrubs or trees make sure the soil and light conditions on your property support the particular plant's needs. Strong healthy vegetation is much less susceptible to attacks by insects or disease. Monitoring flowers, vegetables and landscape plantings for damage every two weeks during the growing season can also help reduce pesticide use. With frequent monitoring, you are more likely to spot the problem before it has a chance to get too far. If you do identify a particular insect or disease, the first consider the level of damage. Then determine the best approach. Is the loss of a couple of tomatoes worth the risk and expense of treating all your plants with toxics? Why not try physical, biological or horticultural controls?
If preventative measures fail to prevent pest problems, a second strategy is to use mechanical trapping devices, natural predators including various insects and birds, insect growth regulators, pheromones or other mating disruption substances. Pests can often times be removed by hand, or by using a strong jet of water. Other physical practices, including pruning, raking, and regular mulching also help. Mulch, for example, discourages weeds from growing, conserves moisture during drought periods allows better use of water by controlling runoff, and increases the water-holding capacity of light sandy soils. Using physical controls means taking on a more active role in pest management, without spending time and money on pesticide treatments that may harm the environment.
Various oils have been used for centuries to control insect and mite pests. Today, horticultural oils remain an important tool to manage certain pest problems. They help control aphid and mite populations that thrive on fruit trees, shade trees, and woody ornamental plants. They can also control some plant diseases, such as powdery mildew.
Although horticultural oils have different effects on various pest populations, the end result is usually the same — safe and effective pest management. The oils may block the air holes through which insects breathe, causing them to die from suffocation.
In some cases, oils act as poisons to insects, interacting with their fatty acids and interfering with normal metabolism. Oils can disrupt how an insect feeds. They have few residual effects, and so their impact on beneficial or benign insects is minimal.
Horticultural practices such as pruning, mulching, planting pest-resistant trees and shrubs, composting decayed plant material and using it to improve soil quality also help control pest populations safely and effectively while protecting the environment from chemical overuse.
Biological control is yet another safe way to manage pests without the use of chemicals. Numerous organisms that feed upon or infect insect pests exist in nature. In many cases, these organisms can prevent insects from ever reaching the "pest" status. The most common natural enemies include predators, parasites, and pathogens. Predators, including various insects, birds, bats and moles, help consume and eliminate large numbers of pests. Ladybugs, for example, help control aphids. Predatory mites feed on the eggs and small stages of various insects. Parasitic wasps have helped control gypsy moths. Parasites, however, will generally only consume one host during its lifetime. Pathogens, including fungi, bacteria, viruses and protozoa can also help protect plants from disease.
Chemical pesticides are the last resort, used only when alternative controls have been exhausted. With IPM, landscapers and homeowners use the least toxic pesticides only when a pest is actively causing serious damage. They do not spray on a calendar basis. Insecticidal soaps have been accepted as a safe chemical for aphid, mite and whitefly control.
Many commercial greenhouses now use soap regularly because whiteflies and green peach aphids have become very resistant to standard greenhouse chemicals. Insecticidal soaps act by impairing the waxy layer of insect exoskeletons, which results in the eventual death of the insect. Sulfur can be used for spider-mite control and will control some other mites, which are resistant to other mite controlling chemicals. Sulfur competes with oxygen in the blood stream. Again, IPM aims to use very few chemical treatments, if any.
A number of environmental commissions have worked with the NJ Environmental Federation to persuade their municipalities to adopt IPM for public lands and facilities. More than 80 towns and school districts have passed resolutions supporting IPM. A number of commissions have been able to persuade their school districts to switch from periodic toxic chemical treatments to the preventative, biological and horticultural controls of IPM – for both playing fields and buildings. USEPA offers guidance on the benefits and approaches for implementing IPM in schools.
Princeton Borough and Princeton Township have both adopted an IPM Policy. The Princeton Regional Health Commission and the Joint Princeton Environmental Commission investigated IPM, and maintained that IPM would benefit the health and welfare of Borough citizens. IPM soon became the new pest control strategy employed in the maintenance of the Borough’s facilities. Princeton Township initially adopted an ordinance governing the development and maintenance of golf courses, which included a section on chemically treated areas. The ordinance required that golf courses maintain vegetated buffers between chemically treated turf areas and any stream. The size of the buffer would have to be sufficient enough to protect the stream from chemical runoff. In addition, a section of the ordinance required the developer to submit an Integrated Turf Management Plan as well as an IPM Plan for the proposed golf course. The plans would have to include the best management practices to prevent and/or minimize adverse impacts of chemical use on ground and surface water sources, and it was required that the water sources were monitored and the results were then submitted to the Township for review.
The Joint Princeton Environmental Commission’s web page actively promotes lawn care without chemicals, an important element of IPM.
Note: Links to external sites are not an endorsement of the site or its contents.
Educational and non-profit organizations
- Database of IPM Resources
- Lawn care without chemicals
- The IPM Institute of North America, Inc.
- Clean Ocean Action brochures on pest control without pesticides, safe pest control for schools, lawn care without chemicals
- Rutgers Cooperative Extension county offices (Blue Pages of the phone book) or their Pest Management Office web page
ANJEC and New Jersey’s environment recently lost a dedicated, long-time volunteer and nationally-known entomologist who specialized in the biological control of agricultural pests.
Bill Metterhouse was an ANJEC activist, serving on our Board and the Upper Freehold Environmental Commission for more than 30 years, including terms as president, treasurer and chair, as well as on Monmouth County’s Planning Board and Environmental Council.
His volunteer work has inspired tributes for his vision, leadership and persistence. “Often, people like Bill Metterhouse do not get to hear about the importance of their environmental advocacy as an inspiration to others,” says Sue Kozel, a member of the Upper Freehold Environmental Commission and Open Space Committee who served with Bill. “He was a New Jersey treasure.”
Shortly before Bill’s death, Sue suggested that ANJEC recognize Bill’s achievements. She was able to let him know that ANJEC would establish a web page on Integrated Pest Management to honor his long-term commitment to environmental protection.
Our thanks to ANJEC intern Laurie Bardon for preparing this material.