Statement: Philadelphia bans toxic herbicides

Media Contacts
Emma Horst-Martz

Former Advocate, PennPIRG

City passes restrictions to protect public health


PHILADELPHIA —  City parks and other public spaces throughout Philadelphia will be a lot safer soon after the city council banned the use of toxic herbicides on municipal property. Various provisions of the Healthy Outdoor Public Spaces Act passed on Thursday go into effect in phases over the next three years. Beginning next July, the city council and the public must be notified of any pesticide use on city grounds. More importantly, in 18 months, the law will prohibit certain toxic chemicals on all city property except golf courses and athletic fields, which must comply no more than 36 months from now. 

The bill, introduced by Councilmember Cindy Bass with seven cosponsors, enjoyed support from a broad coalition of health, environmental and consumer organizations including PennPIRG and PennEnvironment.

The banned herbicides include glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s product RoundUp. These chemicals have been linked to a wide variety of health problems such as cancer, birth defects, damage to the reproductive system, organ system toxicity and endocrine disruption. Beyond their impact on human health, they’ve also been linked to the worldwide decline in populations of bees and other pollinators The Healthy Outdoor Spaces Act also establishes reporting requirements for other potentially dangerous chemicals that do not fit under the category of herbicide. 

In response, PennPIRG Advocate Emma Horst-Martz and PennEnvironment Clean Water and Conservation Advocate Stephanie Wein issued the following statements:

“We applaud this act from City Council and thank Councilmember Bass for her leadership on this issue. The Healthy Outdoor Public Spaces Act is an important step toward making our city healthier and safer for Philidelphians and the workers who keep our parks beautiful,” said Horst-Martz. “Organic land management is a safe and effective alternative to spraying toxic chemicals in our parks and playgrounds. This change is well worth it to ensure that children and adults alike can safely enjoy outdoor spaces in the city, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage Mayor Kenney to sign this bill into law and look forward to continued action to reduce the use of toxic chemicals across Philadelphia.”

“Bees and other pollinators are dying off, with devastating consequences for our ecosystems, and this bill will ban some of the pesticides linked closely to their declines,” added Wein. “With Philadelphia boasting one of the largest urban park systems in the country, safer land management practices here will have a big impact. We’re using our local parks, playgrounds and other public lands more than ever in these tough times, so it’s crucial that city officials ensure that they’re safe for visitors and wildlife.”


PennPIRG, the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. PennPIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.


PennEnvironment is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information, visit