Cleaning Park Playground Equipment (To add New Chapter 14 to Title 24 of the RCNY)

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Effective Date: 
Sunday, July 28, 2019
Download Copy of Adopted Rule (.pdf): 

Statement of Basis and Purpose


Local Law 71 of 2018 added a new Section 18-148 to Chapter 1 of Title 18 of the New York City Administrative Code to require that, within 24 hours of the City spraying a pesticide near a playground operated by or under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (“Parks Department”), the Parks Department clean the playground equipment located in that playground.  Local Law 71 requires the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“Department”) to prescribe by rule the distance between the spraying and the playground equipment that will trigger the cleaning requirement.


Citywide policy and Chapter 12 of Title 17 of the Administrative Code, as added by Local Law 37 of 2005, promote the reduction of pesticide use by City agencies.  Utilizing an integrated pest management (“IPM”) approach at all times, City agencies implement a variety of strategies to control pests, and when pesticides are necessary to protect public health, use the least toxic products in the smallest amounts possible. As agencies rely on IPM techniques, the Department is aware of few circumstances when City agencies spray pesticides that have even the possibility of depositing on Parks Department playground equipment. Those circumstances include, for example, spraying to control mosquitoes to protect the public from West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne disease; to control stinging insects, such as wasps and hornets; and, starting in 2019, to assess approaches to control ticks. In addition, the Parks Department uses a variety of techniques to control weeds such as poison ivy. For example, when poison ivy is growing inside or within the area immediately outside of a playground, the Parks Department either manually removes the poison ivy or cuts the vine at the base and then paints the cut stem with herbicide.  Spray is only used to control poison ivy in areas outside a playground.


The Department is not aware of any standard or guidance addressing whether and when to clean playground equipment in order to protect health following the spraying of pesticide. Two types of standards, however, may be relevant and provide guidance for this. First, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses the “No-Observed-Adverse-Effect-Level” (“NOAEL”) as a benchmark for risk classification and assessment of pesticides. The NOAEL is based on research demonstrating that there are pesticide exposure amounts that do not result in an observed harmful effect. Where a pesticide is applied in an amount that could not reasonably exceed the NOAEL, there is no public health basis to clean playground equipment.  Applying the NOAEL to the circumstances here, the Department is requiring that the Parks Department not be required to clean playground equipment where the pesticide is sprayed in an amount that could not reasonably exceed the NOAEL.


Second, EPA pesticide labeling requirements and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidance set out buffer zones, which are areas within which pesticides must not or should not be sprayed in order to avoid pesticide drift into waterways, agricultural fields, and other areas that could result in exposures that could be toxic to living organisms. Buffer zones of 30 feet—or 80 feet for ultra-low volume application—have been established in a context that could be considered analogous to this one.[1] In the absence of specific standards or guidance regarding cleaning of playground equipment following pesticide spraying, the Department is applying these analogous standards regarding buffer zones for these rules.


The Department is adopting a new Chapter 14 to Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York to implement the provisions of Section 18-148 of Chapter 1 of Title 18 of the Administrative Code, as added by Local Law 71 of 2018.

[1] See, e.g.¸US EPA (2008). Updated spray drift language for pyrethroid agricultural use products U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. See, ; US EPA (2014). Final Registration of Enlist DuoTM Herbicide. Washington, DC. EPA docket, EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0195. See,;  White, J.A. 2004. Recommended Protection Measures for Pesticide Applications in Region 2 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 2, Environmental Contaminants Program. 203p. See: