The widespread use of pesticides in public parks, gardens, sports grounds and children's playgrounds should be banned, say campaigners.
By 2012 the UK is required under new EU laws to have created a national action plan for reducing pesticides. The EU's directive also requires member states to ensure the use of pesticides is minimised or prohibited in certain specific areas.
However, campaigners say the ban should be compulsory rather than voluntary.
A recent report by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and PAN UK estimated children may be exposed to at least four potentially cancer-causing pesticides and several others with serious health impacts.
Currently, according to PAN UK, children can be playing on a sports pitch which has been sprayed with pesticides just minutes earlier.
Two countries have already taken steps to introduce such bans. Denmark has reduced pesticide-use in public areas by 80 per cent since the 1990s although golf clubs remain higher than average users having negotiated smaller reduction targets. Three cities in Belgium - Grobbendonk, Hasselt and Ghent - have banned pesticides from streets, parks and cemeteries but not yet from football pitches.
Switzerland banned the use of herbicides on roofs, balconies, roads, squares and has plans to extend this to public parks. In Canada, the province of Ontario has banned pesticide use on lawns and parks.
HEAL and PAN are now both putting pressure on other EU member states to follow suit and introduce bans or restrictions in the action plans they are required to submit to the EU Commission before 2012.
'A lot of the focus has previously been on pesticides in agriculture but we are not really talking about pesticide use in parks and schools. We want to get health groups and people who have been affected by pesticides involved in this campaign,' said HEAL policy advisor Anne Stauffer.
The 'Sick of Pesticides' website
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) report on good practice
Contractors using dangerous pesticides in UK schools
Survey finds that school children are being exposed to harmful pesticides, but schools claim safer alternatives would be 'uneconomic'
Georgina Downs takes pesticide case to European courts
UK court refuses to overturn appeal decision despite accusations it was ignoring evidence presented by the long-time pesticide campaigner
Independent testing of pesticides in food in doubt after quango cull
Campaigners fear 'backward' step in pesticide regulation in UK after testing body scrapped as Government also confirms major budget cuts to Natural England and the Environment Agency
The pesticides scandal: Government inaction is destroying lives
The new coalition Government must do what Labour failed to do in 13 years in power and finally introduce the necessary measures to protect people from pesticides, says Georgina Downs
Pesticide residue exposure linked to ADHD in children
Parents urged to wash fruits and vegetables before eating after study finds commonly used pesticides may contribute to ADHD in children