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California Safe Schools Celebrates 8 Years of Pioneering Pesticide Policy

(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2007) On Monday April 30, California Safe Schools (CSS) celebrated the 8th anniversary of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)’s groundbreaking Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Policy. This policy, one of the most stringent pesticide policies in the nation for schools, stresses least-toxic methods of pest control and using pesticides only as a last resort, and has become a national and international model.

California Safe Schools is a grassroots children’s environmental health organization formed by parents who witnessed their children walk through a toxic cloud of insecticide at an LAUSD campus nine years ago. Founded by activist and Beyond Pesticides’ board member Robina Suwol, CSS has gained a national reputation for its effective education of parents, schools, and elected officials about protecting children from toxins.

“It takes a village – and several bureaucracies! – to protect children’s health,” said Ms. Suwol, executive director of CSS. “I am so pleased to see how far we have come and grateful that so many school districts, communities, and government officials have contacted us for assistance in replicating our policy and protocol. All children everywhere deserve the protection of IPM.”

IPM is an inherently sustainable method using low risk measures to eliminate undesirable species, such as rodents, insects and plants that are a nuisance or public health risk. The CSS policy adopted by LAUSD was the first in the United States to embrace the Precautionary Principle and the idea that parents and students deserve the right-to-know about what, where, and when pesticides are used on school campuses. To ensure implementation, the policy includes an IPM Oversight Committee. The fifteen member team, which has met monthly for almost a decade, includes parents, environmentalists, community members, teacher, principal, physician, school staff, a county health representative and an “independent IPM expert.”

“As a physician who practices Environmental and Preventive Medicine, I appreciate L.A. Unified’s groundbreaking Integrated Pest Management Policy,” said Dr. Cathie Lippman. “I’ve enjoyed serving on the L.A. Unified oversight IPM Team, and often cite the successful program for understanding the link between health and the environment. Happy 8th Year Anniversary!”

Last month Volvo of North America, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored CSS and its founder Robina Suwol for their “Outstanding Achievement” to protect human health and the environment.

California Safe Schools is a member of the School Pesticide Reform Coalition (SPRC), a group comprised of 25 organizations around the country working for healthy, pesticide-free schools. If you or your organization is interested in joining the Coalition, send an email to [email protected] or call 202-543-5450.

Source: Environmental News Network

TAKE ACTION: Find out what state laws and local policies govern your school. Contact Beyond Pesticides to learn how to get your school to adopt an IPM program by:
(1) Identifying the school’s pest management policy;
(2) Educating yourself and evaluating the program;
(3) Organizing the school community;
(4) Working with school decision-makers; and,
(5) Becoming a watchdog and establishing an IPM Committee.
If your school already has an IPM program in place or other laws regarding pesticide use or right-to-know, find out if they are complying. Work with your school to see what is being done and what still needs to be done. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides’ Children and Schools issue pages.


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