Legislative Commission on
Toxic Substances
Hazardous Wastes

4 Empire State Plaza, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-3711

Summer 2001 • News From Assemblymember David Koon • Volume I
Chair, Legislative Commission On Toxic Substances And Hazardous Wastes


Assemblyman Steve Englebright Dear Friends:

In January, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver appointed me as the Chair of the Committee on Aging. I look forward to this new opportunity and the challenges that it will bring. I leave the Commission on Toxic Substances and Hazardous Wastes with the satisfaction of having achieved some significant accomplishments and the disappointment of work unfinished.

Under the Assemblyís leadership, we were able to pass the several important environmental initiatives. The bill requiring neighbor notification of pesticide applications and parent notice of pesticide applications in schools passed overwhelmingly in both houses. I was also successful in introducing and passing a bill that requires the State to match all money dedicated to the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund.

Thank you all for your interest and support. I remain optimistic that we will achieve our goals if we persevere. I welcome Assemblymember David Koon as the new Chair and look forward to a smooth transition and a successful tenure for him.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright's signature


Breast Cancer
Burn Barrels
Earth Day
Electronics Discards
Health Care Without Harm
Healthy Schools
Pesticide Use
Small Business Environmental Compliance

Assemblymember David Koon Dear Friends:

I am honored to have been appointed this year to serve as the new Chair of the Legislative Commission on Toxic Substances and Hazardous Wastes by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The Commission has a long and distinguished history of addressing critical environmental and public health issues facing New York. It serves as a reservoir of information and research capability on a broad array of environmental topics and develops legislative initiatives to address these problems.

As many of you know, I represent the 135th Assembly District (portions of Monroe and Ontario Counties) and therefore bring a decidedly upstate focus to the work of the Commission. The Commission will continue its activities in the areas of Superfund and Brownfield site remediation, Healthy Schools and Daycare Centers, Pesticide regulation, Childhood Asthma, Breast Cancer, and "healthy" Health Care facilities.

In addition, I consider Senate passage of my bill (A 7202) that prohibits open burning of solid waste as a top legislative priority this year. I am keenly interested in creating incentives for small business environmental compliance and pollution prevention (A 6287). The Commission will likely sponsor one or more roundtable discussions on these topics.

I look forward to an exciting and productive year. Please let us know about issues that you feel need legislative attention.

Assemblymember David Koon's signature


Marilyn M. DuBois
Elizabeth Meer
Richard D. Morse
Percival Miller

landscape image


Risk-Based Cleanup and the Cleanup Continuum

Refinancing the State Superfund program and promoting the cleanup of brownfields sites is a top priority of this session. One of the most controversial issues associated with refinancing is whether to relax cleanup standards. To understand the debate, it is important to know the difference between the current Superfund program and the risk-based approach to cleanup proposed by the Governor and others.

Current Superfund
Program - Full Site Restoration

The guiding concept behind the current Superfund program is resource conservation, which views the full restoration of contaminated sites to near-natural conditions as the ideal goal. This approach reflects the philosophy that soil, surface water and groundwater have inherent value, and that they should be cleaned up completely in order to minimize risk and allow for the unrestricted use of resources into the future. The program has a clear preference for permanence (i.e. remedies that do not require maintenance, monitoring, and use restrictions over the long term). A number of different cleanup options must be identified, developed and compared for their ability to satisfy the pre-disposal goal, the preference for permanence, TAGM 4046, and other remedy selection criteria. (TAGM 4046 standards are a set of highly protective soil standards which currently guide all Superfund cleanups.) The remedy that best satisfies those criteria is chosen. Technical feasibility and cost effectiveness must also be considered, but if a full cleanup is feasible and cost effective, it must be achieved.

New Proposals - Risk-based Cleanups

In contrast, the Governorís bill and other proposals would establish a new, almost wholly risk-based approach to cleanup. The guiding concept behind risk-based approaches is the reduction of risk to an acceptable level. Risk is defined as a combination of the toxic potency of a chemical and the potential for human or environmental exposures. "Acceptable risk" is the degree of risk determined acceptable by policy makers. A cleanup option that would achieve a higher degree of protection than the level deemed "acceptable" does not need to be implemented even if it is feasible and cost effective.

Most risk-based approaches base the level of site cleanup on projected site use and the potential for exposure. Potentially dangerous exposures are assumed to be "eliminated" by placing limits on land and water use, or by the construction of engineered barriers, such as pavement, caps or fences. Risk-based approaches do not have a preference for permanence, nor do they necessarily require even a minimum level of cleanup. The degree of cleanup is determined exclusively by the degree of exposure associated with a given site use and any engineering barriers used. If exposure pathways are assumed "eliminated," even gross amounts of contamination can be left on site.

Risk-based approaches reflect strong confidence in the ability of risk assessment to accurately characterize risk and the ability of barriers and restrictions to eliminate exposure. Conservation-based approaches reflect skepticism about the ability of risk assessment to accurately characterize risk, and the ability of barriers and restrictions to protect people from exposure, especially over the long term.

The Governorís bill would adopt a risk-based approach to cleanup in four key ways.

•   the cleanup goal would be based exclusively on risk, with no preference for a complete or permanent cleanup.

•   the bill would allow standards to vary according to land use, with higher levels of contamination allowed at commercial and industrial sites. Those standards would be set following standard risk assessment methodology. With some small limitations, a party would be free to choose the cleanup level they prefer. If the risk-based standards established by other states are any guide, this could result in a significant relaxation of cleanup standards in New York, to levels three orders of magnitude or higher than the current TAGM 4046 standards (see chart).

•   the bill would significantly reduce remedy selection requirements, most clearly for brownfields, to the development and evaluation of only one cleanup option. Thus, a proposal to leave significant contamination on site would not have to be compared to a cleaner or more permanent alternative.

•   perhaps most importantly, the bill would not require any cleanup standards, generic or site-specific, to be reached in the ground. Even at sites that will be used for residential housing, the bill would allow cleanups to leave significant, even gross, amounts of contamination in soil and groundwater, as long as exposure is "cut off" by engineered barriers, or restrictions on the use of groundwater. The bill does not even require the removal of free product and "grossly contaminated" soil, which is now generally done under the Superfund program.

These provisions would move cleanups away from the left side of the cleanup continuum, where pre-disposal conditions are met, toward the far right-hand side where free product is left in the ground.

Chairman David Koon joins Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Richard Brodsky at the public hearing held to review the Superfund audit conducted by Comptroller Carl McCall (foreground). Chairman David Koon joins Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Richard Brodsky at the public hearing held to review the Superfund audit conducted by Comptroller Carl McCall (foreground).

Toxic Cleanup Chart factory

landscape image



woman recycling Commission Chair David Koon has a keen interest in helping small businesses to succeed. One key to success is having access to the most cost-effective and innovative means of achieving environmental compliance. Small businesses, in particular, often lack the technical expertise they need to pursue the most efficient compliance options, and compliance costs can be high.

State Programs Assisting Small Businesses

A number of state programs have been established to assist small businesses with compliance. One is the Small Business Environmental Ombudsman, which is run by Empire State Development. The Ombudsman program acts as an advocate for small businesses who must comply with air emission requirements. It provides free and confidential information on complying with environmental regulations and assists businesses in finding their way through the compliance process. It also helps to locate sources of compliance financing. The Ombudsman can be contacted toll-free (800) 782-8369 at Empire State Development, 633 Third Ave., 32nd Floor, New York, NY 10017-6706, or through their website at empire.state.ny.us.

The Small Business Assistance Program, run by the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation, collaborates with the Ombudsman program to provide free technical assistance in obtaining air permits and achieving compliance. It can be reached toll-free at (800) 780-7227 or through their website at nysesc.org. As of July 1st, 2001, it will be located at 625 Broadway, Albany NY 12233.

In addition to information services, Empire State Development also administers the Environmental Investment Program, which provides financial assistance for eligible projects that will result in reductions in the generation of solid waste and pollution, or will recycle solid waste. Funding is provided by the program for three types of projects: capital improvements by businesses; research, development and demonstration projects; and projects that will assist New York businesses to reduce or recycle wastes. The program can be contacted at (518) 292-5340 in Albany, (716) 325-1944 in Rochester, or via e-mail at emig@empire.state.ny.us.

The Environmental Investment Program, which disburses roughly $2 million per year, was expanded in 1998 by the Legislature to include pollution prevention projects. This action mirrors a national trend. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state governments across the country are promoting pollution prevention as the preferred approach to achieving environmental compliance.

Why Pollution Prevention?

What is pollution prevention? And why is it so effective? EPA defines pollution prevention as: "source reduction and other practices that reduce the amount of pollutants entering a waste stream prior to out-of-process recycling, treatment, energy recovery or disposal. Prevention includes improvements in manufacturing, such as the substitution of nontoxic materials, redesign of products to

reduce environmental impacts, in-process recycling, modification of equipment, and housekeeping measures such as improved maintenance."

As compared to more traditional compliance approaches, pollution prevention is focused on reducing the use and production of pollutants at their source-during the manufacturing process-instead of at the end of the pipe. Businesses have found that it can result in dramatic reductions in the release of pollutants-reductions that meet or even exceed environmental regulations. The cost savings realized can also be substantial, due to reductions in the cost of raw materials; the cost of chemical storage, transportation, and disposal; and the cost of liability protection, insurance, and regulatory compliance in general.

Pollution Prevention Initiatives

State pollution prevention programs use both semi-regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to achieve their ends. Small business assistance programs are all non-regulatory in nature.

A number of Great Lakes states have experimented with providing on-line information about pollution prevention to small businesses as they are in the process of filling out permit or permit renewal applications. Other programs rely on an array of educational and technical assistance activities to promote pollution prevention. Financial incentives include grants, loans, tax deductions and investment tax credits for pollution prevention activities. The premise behind all these programs is that industry will voluntarily minimize waste and increase productivity when prompted to examine the overall efficiency of their production processes.

In New York State, in addition to the pollution prevention grants offered by ESD, the Department of Environmental Conservationís Pollution Prevention Unit runs an outreach and education program, which provides seminars, workshops, conferences and a clearinghouse for information. Program funding is roughly $5 million per year. The program can be reached at (518) 402-9469 or through their website at dec.state.ny.us/website/ppu. As of July 1st, 2001, it will be located at 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233.

New Small Business Initiatives

While the Stateís existing compliance and pollution prevention programs are laudable, more can be done to widen their scope and provide a more diverse array of assistance. Assemblyman Koon believes that ESD, EFC, and DECís outreach programs should be expanded to provide assistance to businesses for pollutants released to all environmental media, and to provide direct, on-site assistance to specific business facilities.

To this end, Koon has introduced A. 6287, which would expand the Small Business Ombudsman and Environmental Compliance programs to include pollutants released to all environmental media. It would also expand the programs to provide broad pollution prevention assistance in addition to more conventional compliance information.

In addition to that bill, Assemblyman Koon is interested in exploring a variety of ways to increase compliance and pollution prevention assistance for small businesses. One important area of need is to increase access to facility-specific, on-site technical expertise.

landscape image



burn barrel Time to Stop Backyard Burning

Assemblymember Koon, joined by Assemblymember William Colton, Chair of the Legislative Commission on Solid Waste Management, has introduced legislation to ban the burning of household wastes. The bill (A 7202, KOON, COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, JOHN, DINAPOLI, DINOWITZ, ESPAILLAT, HOYT, M. Cohen) prohibits the open burning of solid waste in New York with certain exemptions for agriculture. The bill allows municipalities to enact local ordinances which are more restrictive. The Department of Environmental Conservation regulations (6NYCRR Part 215) currently prohibit open burning in towns (not villages or cities) with more than 20,000 people.

According to the paper "Confronting the Problems of Backyard Burning in the Northeast: The Case of New York", a 1998 unpublished report by Dr. David R. Lighthall, Colgate University and Steven Kopecky, Pennsylvania State University, changes in the chemical composition of the waste stream have contributed to an increase in the health risks of backyard burning. Increased volume of wastes produced by households and a higher proportion of synthetic chemicals, particularly plastics from packaging, have increased the risks of open burning. Incomplete combustion and low temperatures are characteristic of burn barrels, which can result in the formation of dioxins and furans.

The impacts of open burning far surpass those caused by other disposal methods. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in cooperation with the NYS Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation, reported that average polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDDs/PCDFs) from burning 50-900 pounds of household waste in burn barrels are equivalent to those from burning 400,000 pounds of household waste in a modern, well-controlled incinerator. Other emissions from open burning include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, benzene, formaldehyde, chromium, cadmium, mercury, arsenic and hydrogen cyanide.

The primary exposure pathways from backyard burning and their associated toxins include direct inhalation of VOCs and particulates, ingestion of metals that have been absorbed by plants, ingestion of contaminated soil by children and ingestion of organochlorine compounds that have bioaccumulated in fatty tissues of animals. Acute or short term impacts from inhalation of these emissions include respiratory distress and breathing difficulties.

EPA has now found that dioxin is ten times more likely to cause cancer in humans than they previously estimated. Dioxin has been classified as a known human carcinogen. There is growing evidence that organochlorine compounds are at least partially responsible for the increased incidence of breast and prostate cancer in the U.S. EPA has also found that dioxin has the potential to negatively affect human metabolism and the development of reproductive systems at average exposures. At higher than average exposures, endometriosis, demasculinization, birth defects, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, miscarriage and infant death, low birth weight and growth retardation may occur.

There is solid support for this legislation, including the NYS Conference of Mayors, the NYS Association of Counties, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the NYS Solid Waste Management Association, the American Lung Association, the NYS Association of Firefighters and others. Assemblymembers Koon, Colton and Englebright are committed to achieving passage of legislation this year to finally end this damaging practice.

The Assembly unanimously passed A 7202 on April 23, 2001. The Assembly is now working with Senator Maziarz, sponsor of S 3772, for passage of this important legislation in the Senate.


The Assembly celebrated Earth Day on April 23, 2001, by passing a legislative package that builds on the houseís environmental plan contained in the Assembly budget resolution passed in March. Consistent with the Assembly commitment to protect the Stateís abundant natural resources and protecting the public health of its citizens in a comprehensive and responsible manner, the following bills were acted upon:

•  A 7202, BURN BARREL BAN - KOON et al: Prohibits the open burning of solid waste. This bill is discussed further in the newsletter.

•  A 506, VALUATION OF STATE LANDS - BRODSKY et al: Requires that the natural resource value of state-owned lands be fully identified and considered prior to sale of such lands.

•  A 462-A, IPM AT STATE FACILITIES - BRODSKY et al: Fosters the use of integrated pest managment at state facilities.

A 1328, CUMULATIVE IMPACT OF PROJECTS - DINOWITZ et al: Requires cumulative impacts of project located in communities already impacted by polluting facilities be considered.

landscape image



surgery tray

The Hippocratic Oath establishes the ethical responsibility for health care professionals to "above all, do no harm." Unfortunately, the purchasing and waste disposal practices of some health care institutions may actually contribute to or cause illness.

syringe There has been a growing effort within the health care industry and in the broader community to make health care "healthy". In 1996, a national campaign called Health Care Without Harm was created to establish environmentally responsible health care. This network includes more than 270 organizational members with over 70 health care facilities. Many hospitals, including those in the New York Metropolitan area, have been successful in creating pollution prevention programs. A Resource Guide "Environmentally Safe Hospitals, Reducing Waste and Saving Money", has been published by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH). Another document, "Greening" Hospitals: An Analysis of Pollution Prevention in Americaís Top Hospitals" is published by HCWH and the Environmental Working Group.

Environmentally sound policies can produce a healthier environment and generate cost savings. Hospitals across the country are finding that implementing environmentally preferable materials management and waste policies can be both environmentally and financially beneficial.

Two of the most significant public health and environmental concerns are dioxins and mercury.

Dioxin: The 1999 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) draft "Dioxin Reassessment" identified the incineration of medical waste as the single largest source of dioxin air pollution. The class of chemicals known as dioxins are a toxic waste by-product formed when waste containing chlorine is burned or when products containing chlorine are manufactured.

Dioxin is a known human carcinogen, associated with liver, lung, stomach and connective tissue cancers and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Dioxin has been shown to cause reproductive and developmental effects in humans. Certain developmental neurotoxic effects, hormone effects and immune system effects have also been associated with dioxin exposure.

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a major source of chlorine in medical wastes. The primary use of PVC is intravenous bags, tubing, blood bags, endotracheal tubes, oxygen tents, mattress covers, packaging and plastic office supplies.

Mercury: In 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified the incineration of medical waste as the fourth largest source of mercury releases in the United States. Mercury is widely known to cause nervous and reproductive damage. It causes developmental problems and can affect the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. Pregnant women can pass mercury from their bodies into the developing fetus, affecting its development and causing brain and nervous system damage. Mercury is found in thermometers, blood pressure gauges, thermostats, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs and numerous other materials and supplies.


An area where hospitals can make significant changes to reduce toxics is in their procurement practices. For example, many mercury-containing products have non-toxic alternatives. While hospitals recognize that the continued use of mercury is outweighed by its toxic effects and are seeking to eliminate the use of mercury, most policies have not been followed up with action to make hospitals mercury-free. Strong Memorial Medical Center in Rochester has been working actively to phase out mercury.

Dioxin is only a part of the chemical contamination associated with PVC use. Plasticizers called phthalates are often added to make plastic softer for IV bags and tubing. The most common phthalate, DEHP [Di(2-ethylhexyl)-phthlate] has been classified as a possible human carcinogen by EPA, shown to cause liver damage and is a suspected endocrine disrupter in humans. DEHP can migrate from plastics into the solutions (blood, intravenous solutions). DEHP is of particular concern to infants and children because of their greater vulnerability. Replacement of PVCs is of critical importance; there are non-toxic replacements for soft and hard PVC products. However, hospitals are only recently starting to address the dangers of PVC plastic. Research is being done into non-toxic alternatives to facilitate hospitals moving away from PVC products.

iv bags


Waste treatment is part of a much larger system of purchasing and materials management that determines the overall environmental and health impacts of a health care facility. In addition to the regulated medical wastes, health care facilities generate recyclable materials (e.g. glass, aluminum, cardboard), food waste, solid waste, hazardous waste, radioactive waste and pathological waste (tissue, body parts).

At least 30% of the waste produced by medical facilities can probably be recycled, reused, reduced or eliminated and with an aggressive program, perhaps as much as a 50% reduction can be achieved. Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City has cut the facilityís regulated medical waste disposal costs by 60% using a combination of employee education, monitoring of the wastestream and strategic placement of "red bag" waste containers.

Health care facilities must undertake a comprehensive approach to managing their waste that includes establishing an infrastructure to facilitate the program. Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City reviewed its waste programs and successfully cut its medical waste volume. In the first year after revising its container placement policies, more than one million dollars was saved. Issues needing to be examined and addressed include 1) waste segregation practices; 2) staff organization and education; 3) facility and operational issues; 4) on-site and off-site treatment technology issues; 5) sharps (eg. hypodermic needles) management; 6) costs; 7) environmental, ethical and community issues; 8) regulatory issues; 9) hazardous waste management; and 10) contract issues.

hospital waste


Most hospitals use pesticides to control pests such as insects and rodents. Antimicrobials (disinfectants, sterilants, etc) are also pesticides which are used routinely. However, hospital pesticide use presents health risks to patients, staff and visitors. Alternative methods of pest control are available which are effective, economical and less hazardous to health.

Integrated pest management (IPM) strategies can control pests without creating the potential for adverse health impacts. Prevention of pest infestations can be achieved by removal of food, water and shelter. Solid waste collection practices, structural management (building repairs), and use of non-chemical controls can achieve great success.

In New York, the University of Rochester Medical Center has made great progress in pest management. In a variety of facilities, they have eliminated roach and ant aerosols, and the use of organophosphate insecticides and "preventative" applications. They have cut costs for materials and labor and reduced the risks to the facility occupants.


The Assembly has already taken the initiative to reduce mercury contamination and emissions. A 4209 (Brodsky) would require a phase-out of products containing mercury from being sold in NYS, including thermometers and dental amalgams; prohibit disposal of mercury in various solid waste and other facilities; and require recycling of lamps and other products containing mercury. Other bills (A 5577-A Brodsky and A 5203 Grannis) would limit or prohibit mercury emission from power plants.

syringesThe Commission will focus activities on mercury thermometer collection/replacement events in the State. The Commission will also be generating legislation to deal with some of the issues discussed in this article.

landscape image


Assembly Budget Resolution Increases Critical Environmental Funding


On March 19th nearly two weeks before the beginning of the new State fiscal year, the Assembly passed a balanced budget resolution based on its own historically accurate revenue forecasts. The budget resolution outlines the Assembly spending priorities for the coming year including education, health care and the restoration and enhancement of important environmental programs that the Governor cut in his proposed budget.

Environmental Protection Fund

With funds from the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act nearly spent in certain critical programs, there is an increasing reliance on the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The Assembly plan provides $187 million in funding for the EPF, a $37 million dollar increase over the Governorís proposal. Moreover, the Assembly further increases the permanent revenues dedicated to the EPF to $175 million over two years so that these critical environmental programs can continue to be funded into the future.

Assembly proposed increases in EPF funding include:

  • $7 million for secondary material marketing assistance which provides grants to companies and not-for-profits for projects that increases the use of recycled materials in manufacturing or reduces the amount of waste that they produce. The Governor has proposed to cut this program from the $5 million provided last year to $ 3 million this year even though the number of applications has substantially increased;
  • $2.3 million for maintaining the pesticide use and sales reporting system. In addition, the Assembly provides $2.4 million for childhood asthma programs from $12 million interest anticipated to accrue to the EPF.

Superfund and Brownfields

The Assembly plan supports refinancing the State Superfund, which has run out of money. However, the Assembly rejects several provisions in the Governorís Superfund budget proposal including reduced cleanup standards and the proposed cost shift from the polluter to the taxpayer. The Assembly plan would ensure that the historic 50-50 industry-taxpayer cost

share is retained, provide for the remediation of hazardous substance sites and accelerate the Superfund program from a 21-year program proposed by the Governor to a program that will cleanup all sites within ten years.

The Assembly plan includes measures to stimulate the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites.

The Assembly initiative would expedite the process by:

  • Authorizing local governments to establish Environmental Opportunity Zones which would provide tax benefits and expedited review of cleanup plans;
  • Allowing municipalities to enter brownfield sites to investigate the extent of contamination without taking title to the property;
  • Eliminating the current requirement that municipalities share 50 percent of any profit made on the sale remediated brownfield with the State; and
  • Providing grants of 90 percent of on-site cleanup costs and 100 percent for off-site cleanup costs.

The Assembly would also provide $30 million in tax relief to promote the remediation of brownfields and to promote economic development related to these sites.

Other Environmental Initiatives

The Assembly plan would include:

  • Phase-out the use of pesticides by all state agencies over the next three years; and
  • Fund preparation of statewide cancer maps including the location of sources of environmental, occupational and geographical risks.

At press time budget negotiations were stalemated over the amount of State revenue available for critical programs. State revenues are running $500 million ahead of the Governorís estimate from the April 15th tax returns. Over the past six years, the Governorís revenue estimates have fallen nearly $11 billion short, resulting in missed opportunities for New York.

landscape image

Commission Continues To Advocate For Environmentally Safe And Healthy Schools And Daycare Centers


Assemblymember David Koon continues the Commissionís dedication to promote legislation to protect the environmental health and safety of children and others in the school and daycare environment. Children are uniquely vulnerable to toxic exposures and there is currently little protection for them in our schools. They may be regularly exposed to asbestos, radon, lead-based paints, pesticides, mold and mildew, and indoor air contaminants. Children spend at least half of each weekday (and some weekends and nights) at school. Furthermore, parents are unaware of the hazards that exist and therefore are not in a position to insist that these hazards be eliminated or reduced.

The Commission has worked with the Healthy Schools Network, Environmental Advocates, New York State United Teachers, the American Lung Association and others in the development of legislation to protect our children in schools and daycare centers. There have also been national efforts to bring attention to the unhealthy conditions in many of our schools. Most recently, a report, "Poisoned Schools: Invisible Threats, Visible Actions," was issued by the Child Proofing Our Communities: Poisoned School Campaign. This report highlights many of the same issues the Commission has been seeking to address in New York State, including problems with school siting and construction, pesticide poisonings, and lack of parent notification of school hazards.

Chairman David Koon discussing "healthy schools" issues with Floyd Cameron (NYS United Teachers); Timothy Nichols (American Lung Assn.); Claire Barnett (Health Schools Network); Jeff Jones (Environmental Advocates); and James Murphy (Healthy Schools Network) standing. Chairman David Koon discussing "healthy schools" issues with Floyd Cameron (NYS United Teachers); Timothy Nichols (American Lung Assn.); Claire Barnett (Health Schools Network); Jeff Jones (Environmental Advocates); and James Murphy (Healthy Schools Network) standing.

The Assembly
Healthy Schools Bills:

A 6024, CHILDRENíS ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND SAFETY BILL OF RIGHTS - KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, DINOWITZ, COLTON, MILLMAN, ESPAILLAT, Clark, M. Cohen, Davis, DelMonte, Diaz, Grannis, Green, Hooper, Matusow, Mayersohn, Perry, Pheffer, Rhodd-Cummings, Weinstein: would establish a Childrenís Environmental Health and Safety Bill of Rights and require that all State agencies review their regulations and policies for consistency with this policy. Passed Assembly 1998, 1999 and 2000. Currently in Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

A 6623, PARENT RIGHT-TO-KNOW OF HEALTH AND SAFETY HAZARDS - ENGLEBRIGHT, KOON: would establish a Parentsí Right-To-Know of the environmental health and safety problems that exist in their childrenís schools and day care centers. Passed Assembly 2000. Currently in Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

A 5188-A, INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT FOR SCHOOLS - ENGLEBRIGHT, KOON, Colton, Davis, Diaz, Eddington, Glick, Gordon, McEneny, Rhodd-Cummings, Stringer: would require schools to adopt integrated pest management strategies. Passed Assembly 1999 and 2000. Currently in Assembly Calendar.

A 5192-A, SCHOOL SITING REQUIREMENTS - ENGLEBRIGHT, KOON, Cahill, Colton, Eddington, Gordon, McEneny, Rhodd-Cummings, Stringer: would require careful analysis of environmental factors when siting, constructing, rehabilitating and maintaining school facilities, to ensure that these facilities are not located adjacent to or near known environmental hazards such as Superfund or Brownfield sites, municipal incinerators, landfills and other potential hazards. Passed Assembly 1998, 1999, and 2000. Currently in Assembly Rules Committee.

A 5193-A, "GREEN" PROCUREMENT GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOLS - ENGLEBRIGHT, KOON, ORTIZ, Colton, Diaz, McEneny, Millman, Pheffer, Rhodd-Cummings, Sweeney: would establishes guidelines for "green" procurement policies and products that school purchase. Passed Assembly 1998, 1999 and 2000. Currently in Assembly Rules Committee.

A 5120-A, INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT FOR DAYCARE CENTERS - ENGLEBRIGHT, KOON, Eddington, Glick, Gordon, Kaufman, McEneny, Ortiz, Rhodd-Cummings, Stringer: would require daycare centers to adopt integrated pest management strategies. Currently in Assembly Children and Families Committee.

A 5191-A, DAYCARE CENTER SITING REQUIREMENTS - ENGLEBRIGHT, KOON, MCENENY, JACOBS, Colton, Eddington, Gordon, Kaufman, Pheffer, Rhodd-Cummings, Stringer: would require analysis of environmental factors when siting, constructing, rehabilitating and maintaining daycare centers, to ensure that these facilities are not located adjacent to or near known environmental hazards such as Superfund or Brownfield sites, municipal incinerators, landfills and other potential hazards. Passed Assembly 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.

New Initiatives: In addition to passage of the above legislative initiatives developed to improve the learning environment, the Commission is working with other Assembly staff on the Alternative Fuels and Transportation Technologies Roundtable. The roundtable will discuss options available to reduce airborne pollution, particularly in highly urbanized areas where childhood asthma rates are particularly high. A recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council showed that diesel fumes are up to eight times higher inside school buses than outside of the buses.

The Commission is also doing research on air quality standards for school facilities, with the expectation of developing one or more legislative initiatives to better protect our children in this environment.

landscape image


Doctor with woman Breast Cancer Activists Lobby for More Representation on Health Research Science Board

Expanded Funding for the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund

Legislation introduced by Assemblymembers Englebright, Koon et al. and Senator James Fuschillo et al., requiring the State to match all funding in the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund (BCREF), was finally signed into law in October as Chapter 550 of the Laws of 2000. This new law doubles the funding available for the BCREF. The BCREF receives donations from income tax check-offs and the "Drive for the Cure" custom license plate proceeds. This year, advertisements by the State promoting the check-off option highlighted the matching funds coming into the program.

Assembly Breast Cancer Day - March 12, 2001.

The Assembly passed a number of breast cancer bills that week, including

A 5189, BREAST CANCER MAPPING - Englebright et al.: would authorize funding of breast cancer incidence mapping from the BCREF and adds certain requirements to enhance the pesticide sales and use reports submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation. Passed Assembly 1998, 2000 and 2001. No Senate sponsor.

A 5681, ADDS BREAST CANCER SURVIVORS TO THE HEALTH RESEARCH SCIENCE BOARD - Englebright, Koon, et al.; would add 10 breast cancer survivors/sufferers or their advocates to the Health Research Science Board as voting members. Passed Assembly 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. No Senate sponsor.

L 324, Breast Cancer Income Tax Check-off Day Resolution - Assemblymembers ENGLEBRIGHT, KOON et al., calling on the Governor to proclaim March 13, 2001 as Breast Cancer Income Tax Check-Off Day. The resolution highlights the breast cancer research and education program funded by income-tax check-offs - more than 271,000 contributions totalling almost $2.5 million have been donated by New Yorkers.

Breast Cancer Research and Education Grant Proposals Sought

ribbonThe Health Research Science Board is again soliciting breast cancer research and education grant proposals this year. The deadline for receipt of proposals for the 2001 competition for EMPIRE (EMPowerment through Innovative Research and Education) and Postdoctoral Fellowship awards is June 29, 2001. EMPIRE grants are intended to provide initial support for preliminary testing of novel or high-risk hypotheses or innovative breast cancer outreach activities. Postdoctoral Fellowship awards are intended to support continued training of basic or clinical investigators with exceptional potential for making significant contributions to the battle against breast cancer. The anticipated contract start date is December 1, 2001. Nearly $2 million in support of these grants is anticipated to be available for this yearís competition. For further information, contact HRSB@wadsworth.org.

landscape image


Commission Chair David Koon is examining the issue of recovery, reuse and recycling of electronic equipment this year. Tens of thousands of obsolete computers are piling up in attics and offices across the state. Their owners, confounded by an apparent lack of reuse options, are unable or unwilling to consign these expensive old electronics to the landfill. According to Stanford Research, Inc., todayís personal computers are outdated in about three years, and may be outdated in as little as two years by 2007. With obsolescence rates like these, more than 31 million computers across the country will be retired in the next year alone.

Added to that total will soon be millions of old television sets. Current analog televisions will be discarded in ever greater numbers with the advent of high definition television, which all US television stations will be converting to by 2006. Although analog sets will still work with a converter box, an estimated 40 million households will have made the switch to a high definition television set by that time.


Computers, televisions and other electronic equipment present the same management concerns: tons of bulky waste containing hazardous constituents, which present potential environmental problems if burned or buried. For example, carcinogenic flame retardants are used in the plastic covers of computers and television sets. Six to eight pounds of lead are contained in each CRT (cathode ray tube) from computer monitors and television picture tubes. Lead is also present in the soldering on circuit boards. Other heavy metals, including trace amounts of cadmium, mercury and phosphorus, are used in circuitry.

Since the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) classifies computers as hazardous waste if 220 pounds (approximately three computer systems) are discarded in a single month, businesses and institutions in particular must concern themselves with finding alternatives to disposal for their numerous outdated units.

According to a National Safety Council report, only about 11% of the 24 million personal computers that became obsolete

last year were recycled or reused, so it is clear that more progress must be made in developing a reuse/recycling/safe management infrastructure for computers, televisions and other electronic equipment.

Electronic equipment collected for reuse and recycling at Waste Management and Recycling, Schenectady, N.Y Electronic equipment collected for reuse and recycling at Waste Management and Recycling, Schenectady, N.Y


A 1997 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "Electronics Reuse and Recycling Directory" listed 12 outlets for old electronics equipment in New York State ó most on Long Island and in New York City. Since the publication of the EPA directory, two newer enterprises for old computers have opened in the Bronx and in Schenectady, and more will surely follow, creating new jobs for skilled and unskilled workers. The volume of equipment discards is expected to peak in the next five years. Beyond the bricks and mortar of fledgling collection and processing centers, there exists the need for a comprehensive policy framework on the safe disposition of residentially and commercially generated electronics.

The Commission will be involved in efforts to develop a sound and equitable policy on the safe disposition of electronic equipment (see discussion of the Electronics Recycling Roundtable).


Commission Chair David Koon and Assemblymember William Colton, Chair of the Legislative Commission on Solid Waste Management, will co-sponsor a Roundtable on Electronic Equipment Recycling to be held on June 28, 2001 at 250 Broadway, New York City from 11:00 am to 3:00 PM. For further information, contact the Commission office.

landscape image

Toxic Substance & Hazardous Waste

Legislative Commission on
Toxic Substances and Hazardous Wastes
4 Empire State Plaza, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12248

Richard D. Morse, Executive Director
Marilyn M. DuBois, Editor

Chairman David Koon (right) is joined by Commission and office staff.  Seated left to right:  Elizabeth Hoffman, Echo Cartwright, Elizabeth Meer, Anthony Best and Marilyn DuBois.  Standing left to right:  Kevin Younis and Richard Morse.

Chairman David Koon (right) is joined by Commission and office staff. Seated left to right: Elizabeth Hoffman, Echo Cartwright, Elizabeth Meer, Anthony Best and Marilyn DuBois. Standing left to right: Kevin Younis and Richard Morse.


Alarming trends show the continuing need for reforms

The Commission continues to put forward a aggressive pesticide agenda. The Assemblyís strong advocacy for passage of the "Neighbor Notice" bill achieved success in 2000. However, there are numerous other issues that remain to be addressed, relating to the registration, use, storage, sale and display of pesticides, as well as protection of farmworkers from pesticide exposures and requirements for reporting incidence of pesticide poisonings.

In October 2000, Environmental Advocates and the New York Public Interest Research Group released their report "The Toxic Treadmill - Pesticide Use and Sales in New York State 1997-1998". This report analyzed the pesticide use and sales data reported to the Department of Environmental Conservation for the years 1997 and 1998. An astonishing amount of pesticides (4.5 million gallons and 29.4 million pounds) was reported by commercial applicators or sold to farmers in 1998. Non-agricultural pesticide use exceeds agricultural use in New York, except for crop-growing regions of western New York and the Hudson Valley where agricultural pesticide use predominates.

The recommendations in the report are largely addressed in legislation developed by the Commission, including banning the most toxic pesticides, promoting safer alternatives to pesticides, giving local governments authority to regulate pesticides, protecting farmworkers from pesticide exposures and improving the pesticide use and sales reporting requirements.


A 6083, PESTICIDE STORAGE REQUIREMENTS - KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, Clark, Cook, Dinowitz, Grannis, Hooper, Matusow, Mayersohn, Rhodd-Cummings: would establish pesticide storage requirements for certified commercial applicators, registered pesticide businesses and commercial permit holders (sellers of restricted use pesticides). Currently in Assembly EnCon Committee.

A 6084, UTILITY RIGHT-OF-WAY NOTICE - KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, Clark, Colton, Cook, Eddington, Grannis, Green, Hooper, Matusow, Mayersohn, Pheffer, Rhodd-Cummings, Weinstein: would require notification of pesticide applications to utility rights-of-way. Currently on Assembly Calendar.

A 6086, AERIAL PESTICIDE PERMIT REQUIREMENTS - KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, COLMAN, Clark, M. Cohen, Colton, Cook, Davis, Grannis, Green, Hooper, Matusow, Mayersohn, Rhodd-Cummings, Weinstein: would establish permit requirements for application of pesticides from aircraft. Currently in Assembly Rules Committee.

A 6087, LOCAL GOVERNMENT PESTICIDE REGULATION - KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, Clark, Colton, Cook, Eddington, Grannis, Green, Hooper, Kaufman, Matusow, Mayersohn, Pheffer, Rhodd-Cummings: would allows local governments to regulate pesticide use and notification. Currently in Assembly EnCon Committee.

A 6350, PESTICIDE REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS - KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, Clark, Colton, Cook, Dinowitz, Grannis, Green, Hooper, Matusow, Mayersohn, Pheffer, Rhodd-Cummings, Weinstein: would establish requirements for registration of pesticides in New York, including a prohibition against registration of known or probable human carcinogens. Passed Assembly 1998 and 1999. Currently in Assembly EnCon Committee.

A 5063, PESTICIDE POISONING REGISTRY - ENGLEBRIGHT, KOON, Cook, Davis, Diaz, Glick, Gordon, Kaufman, McEneny, Ortiz, Rhodd-Cummings, Stringer: would require physicians, hospitals and labs to report cases of pesticide poisoning. Passed Assembly 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. Currently in Senate Rules Committee

A 5190, FARMWORKER PROTECTION - ENGLEBRIGHT, KOON, ORTIZ, Colton, Cook, Diaz, Gordon, McEneny, Rhodd-Cummings: Stringer, Weisenberg: would establish requirements for protection of farmworkers from pesticide exposures. Currently in Assembly Health Committee.

landscape image

New York State Assembly
[ Welcome Page ] [ Committee Updates ]