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School Pesticide Poisonings Spur State to Consider Legislation

(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2008) Growing out of concern from pesticides drifting onto school grounds, the Hawaii Senate has begun looking at adopting legislation that would better protect students and staff from nearby pesticide applications.The bill, SB 3170, will establish a 1,500 foot no-spray buffer zone for all backpack applications and a half-mile buffer zone for all aerial applications around all elementary schools. It will also require a 72-hour prior written notification to all schools in the immediate area of a pesticide application as well as a one-week prior notification of all commercial use of pesticides within a five-mile radius of any school or educational institution property to the Department of Education (DOE). DOE will then notify the appropriate schools within 72-hours of the proposed application. The bill’s author, Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser, stated on his website, “A pesticide is poison. It is designed to kill. No child should be subjected to it, especially in a learning environment. To allow it doesn’t even make sense.”

Many of those that spoke at the public hearing on the bill on February 4th had been impacted by the type applications the bill is trying to prevent.

Kauai’s Garden Island Newspaper states that this past January ten students and one teacher were sent to the hospital complaining of dizziness, headaches and nausea after pesticides drifted onto the Waimea Canyon Middle School campus. Similar incidents occurred at the school in January 2007 and in November 2006, closing the school for several days. Now the Hawaii State Teachers Association has filed an injunction for Syngenta Seeds Inc. to halt its pesticide applications on the neighboring property it leases.

Last May a similar incident made students sick at Kahuku High and Intermediate School on Oahu. Ameri-Turf applied Orthene on 9,000 square-feet of its property that borders the school. The pesticide drifted onto the school grounds. As a result, the school was shut down for three days due to lingering fumes. Soil samples taken by state agriculture officials confirm the drift incident.

Kahuku’s Principal Lisa Delong told NBC’s KHNL Channel 8, “We think it is an important bill and we would encourage them to pass it so we can insure our students have a safe learning environment.”

For more information on how pesticides impact children’s health and strategies for getting pesticides out of your school, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Children and Schools webpage.


3 Responses to “School Pesticide Poisonings Spur State to Consider Legislation”

  1. 1
    dog looks for safe lawn Says:

    I love Hawaii and if I could I would live there. It is an amazing state and the last time my owner visited I was told that the gold courses are right along the ocean and they are toxic green I suspect. So what does this mean to the beauty of the islands oceans and their pristine environment? – that it is being sacrificed – this is NOT any different than manacured lawns at the schools that are toxic green – its just nonsense! goodbye to Hawaii as we knew here…terrible, indeed. Cant lick my paws there can I?
    Consider legislation? – it is about time!

  2. 2
    Boyd Ready Says:

    The legislation considered was so badly thought out that even the Dept. of Education opposed it. A couple of wind drift smell events, leading to zero days hospital stay for anyone, made the papers and were enough to get the knee jerk ‘ban use of pesticides’ crowd out to get a bill introduced. In a tropical climate judicious use of EPA approved pesticides by licensed applicators is a normal practice around schools to keep centipedes, roaches and ants at controlled levels. School lawns are definitely not kept too green (they are barely watered) and lawn chemicals are scarcely if ever used on school grounds due to lack of budget and lack of trained personnel. Whatever makes the lawnmower crews’ job easier is what is done, so lack of water is more often the recipe for school grounds.
    Hawaii’s landscape industry is extremely proactive with regard to invasive species and responsible use of chemicals, and manicured lawns (not at schools, can’t afford them) mostly at resorts and golfcourses are moving to native seashore grasses on which plain ordinary salt is effective for weed control. Most golf courses here are models of careful use of pesticides: they are expensive, #1, and #2, managers are mostly responsible and environmentally aware.

  3. 3
    Unmani Cynthia Groves, health care practice management consultant since 1985 Says:

    3/23/13 WE NEED URGENT HELP. HI state Ways and Means is the last committee in the HI Senate we have to get support for resident notification through on our watered down pesticide bill–most likely will be scheduled within the week. Hawaii is ground zero for GMO seed crops, high pesticide use, including GMO open air experimental crops. The 2008 School Pesticide bill failed. The 2013 HB1396 the school pesticide bill was introduced but not moved. However, On HB673 We absolutely need response from Pesticide action organizations, other states and organizations to respond to help us. The only required notification required of pesticide users is a sign on restricted use pesticides. Glyphosate (Roundup) with derivatives including inerts which are dangerous are still considered “General Use”. The west side of Kauai is filled with GMO seed pesticide use, experimental open air testing, no school pesticide bill now in 2013, and HB673 a watered down pesticide bill that has the neighbor notification clause removed. We have to get notification requirements in place. A sign posted only for restricted use pesticides is insufficient. On bioitech and big ag properties, most people can’t even see this let alone are at the effect of pesticide drift. People are getting sick on west side of Kauai where most of the biotech crops are with heavy spraying and our aquatic areas are people are being impacted. Pesticide companies, particularly big ag make millions of dollars off of us. Big ag has the ability to have a phone hot line for pesticide use notification and ability to robo call residents who sign up for it to state location, time and date, but are not required to do so in law, and don’t utilize it voluntarily that I am aware of. Hence the need for a requirement. Pesticide companies state they will be harassed and want to keep their locations confidential and reporting evidence minimal. Big ag has the ability to post security cameras, do plant barriers, electric fences, regular fences for their protection. As residents, we have nothing but a sign for notification, which most people can’t see and have no idea where pesticide drift is coming from in order to prepare to close windows, doors, bring in pets, wear protective clothing.

    We have no options short of notification to protect ourselves and request our states to review approrpiateness of chemicals for use and testing, but our state is understaffed for testing.

    Please testify for us in Hawaii http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov and typeH B673.

    MAHALO NUI LOA for hearing our pleas for help

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