Great news: Beginning this spring, the use of synthetic pesticides in Portland, Maine will be prohibited unless granted an emergency waiver.

“Adopted just over a year ago, Portland’s pesticide ordinance bans synthetic pesticides use on lawns, gardens, landscaped areas, patios, sidewalks, driveways, parks and playing fields. Only organic treatments can be used to beat back weeds and insects such as grubs.”1

Avery Kamila, a co-founder of Portland Protectors and advocator of the ban said, “It’s very exciting that Portland has become a leader in the worldwide movement to minimize synthetic pesticides and adopt organic land care techniques. The challenge now becomes educating property owners, lawn care companies and retailers about organic land care.”1

With the passing of this ordinance, officials hope to educate people about the hazardous products that have been put into the soil previously and give them info about what they can do to help the soil build itself back up.

Although Portland stores will be allowed to continue selling synthetic pesticides, many store owners won’t be ordering products like Roundup once their current supplies run out.

The enforcement of Portland’s ordinance, which will rely mostly on education, will allow the city to impose fines ranging from $100 to $500:

  • No pesticides are allowed within 75 feet of a water body or wetland
  • Some synthetic pesticides may be used in emergency situations, but only if a waiver is granted by the city
  • And waivers may be sought for emergencies involving invasive species, like Browntail Moths; insects that threaten public health, like ticks; destructive insects like termites; and plants poisonous to the touch like poison ivy.

The city has already trained a number of employees in organic lawn care methods by the Northeaster Organic Farming Association and officials have been holding forums with lawn care companies and others interested in learning more about the ordinance.

“The only products permitted to be used are those on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Organic Program National List of Allowed and Prohibited substances and those classified as minimum risk under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Acts. The city has additional information on its website,”1

(The ban has been delayed for some publicly owned athletic fields and the city exempted the municipal golf course. However, the city will manage those properties carefully to minimize harmful pesticide use.)

Way to go, Portland! (Now if we could all just follow suit!)


  1. Press Herald