The recent passage of South Portland’s pesticide ban (“S. Portland pesticide ban, minus fines, passes,” Page A1, Sept. 8) results from the thoughtful efforts of Mayor Tom Blake, city councilors and Sustainability Coordinator Julie Rosenbach to get it right.

The final wording reflects a good-faith attempt to find balance. On the one hand, councilors are aware of the extensive research linking exposure to these chemicals with various cancers, birth defects, learning and developmental disorders and sexual and reproductive dysfunction, as well as harmful effects on the environment, including Casco Bay.

But as well, they have acknowledged the views of homeowners’ lawn and garden services and farmers who rely on these agents for control of invasive insects and plants.

As a grandfather of eight and a longtime member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, already troubled by what is known about lawn and garden pesticides, I was impressed by the level of knowledge demonstrated by Mayor Blake, council members and citizens with various views of the issue testifying at a recent work session.

The mayor’s compelling data may be accessed on the city’s website: Go to the department home page for the Sustainability Office, then click the Pesticides Use Ordinance link under the heading “Sustainability News.”

The South Portland City Council is counting on widespread public education to persuade folks to voluntarily reduce use of toxic chemicals, rather than imposition of potentially scapegoating penalties on homeowners or businesses who might continue to use them.

As people become more informed about the medical and environmental consequences that belie reassurances that glyphosate and others commonly applied pesticides are “safe when used as directed,” the use of these chemicals will hopefully diminish.

James H. Maier, M.D.

Physicians for Social Responsibility