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California Introduces Legislation to Remove Pesticides from Schools

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2011) To help protect children from exposure to pesticides, California State Senator Mark DeSaulnier joined with Pesticide Watch and Californians for Pesticide Reform in pursuing Senate Bill 394, The Healthy Schools Act of 2011, introduced February 16, 2011. SB 394 would prohibit use of a pesticide on a school site if that pesticide contains an ingredient known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity and that at least one staff person from each school be trained in appropriate use of pesticides. This is a new attempt to pass legislation since Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed The Healthy Schools Act of 2010 (SB 1157) which passed the State Assembly in 2010.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children between the ages of six and eleven have the highest levels of pesticides in their bodies when compared to any other age category. Some specific pesticides have been found at levels 200% higher in children than adults. SB 394 would provide that only self-contained baits, gels, and pastes deployed as crack and crevice treatments and spot treatments may be used on school sites. The bill would prohibit use of a pesticide on a school site if that pesticide contains an ingredient known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity, as specified, or any one of specified cholinesterase-inhibiting pesticides. The bill would prohibit, on and after January 1, 2014, the use of a pesticide on a school site if that product contains certain toxic or dangerous ingredients, as described, including any cholinesterase-inhibiting active ingredient, as identified by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, an active ingredient that is a groundwater or toxic air contaminant, as specified, or a fumigant, as identified by the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

“The risk for our children is just too great,” said Sen. DeSaulnier. “Schools are a place of learning and growth that must be free of dangerous toxins. This bill recognizes that there is nothing more important to California families than the health of our children.”

Pesticide exposure is known to cause acute symptoms, such as nausea, headache, dizziness, asthma attacks, and respiratory irritation, which are often diagnosed as flu symptoms. Pesticides have also been linked to chronic effects such as developmental and reproductive problems, learning disabilities like ADHD and autism, nervous system disorders, immune deficiency, and cancer. Visit Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide Induced Disease Database for more information on pesticides and disease.

Children’s exposure to pesticides has contributed to a rise in a variety of chronic illnesses and fatal diseases. In the last twenty years, asthma among children has more than doubled and is now the leading cause of missed school days in California. From 1977 to 1994, learning disabilities among children rose 191%, with brain cancer in children up 40% from 1973 to 1994.

“This legislation ensures that California school children and teachers are provided with a safer and greener learning environment,” said Paul Towers, state director of Pesticide Watch. “With the right training and support, healthy schools are within reach.”

“California used to be the state others turned to as a model for ensuring the health of kids in school,” said Sarah Aird, State Field Campaigner/Organizer, Californians for Pesticide Reform. “Although some California schools are reaping the health benefits and financial advantages of green pest control, as a state we’ve fallen behind the cutting edge. It’s time for California to take the lead again. This bill would do that.”

A previous bill, the Healthy Schools Act of 2010 (SB 1157), a bill that would have required least-toxic integrated pest management (IPM) in all California schools, was vetoed in September 2010 by Governor Schwarzenegger after passing the State Assembly. California activists were concerned then about SB 1157’s fate since the bill was amended eight times since its introduction in February 2010 and did not garner support from state Republicans.

Visit Beyond Pesticides’ Children and Schools program page as well as our factsheet, Children and Pesticides Don’t Mix.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle


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