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NEETF Announces Guidelines for Health Care Providers to Recognize and Treat Pesticide Poisonings
(from January 31, 2003)

In an effort to prepare the nation's primary health care providers to recognize and effectively treat pesticide poisonings, the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (NEETF) released national pesticide competency and practice skills guidelines for physicians and nurses. The guidelines are part of the foundation's 10-year National Strategies for Health Care Providers: Pesticides Initiative.

The companion documents, National Pesticide Competency Guidelines for Medical & Nursing Education and National Pesticide Practice Skills Guidelines for Medical & Nursing Practice, were developed specifically for everyday, front-line health care professionals. The Initiative has been developed in response to a gap in health professional education and the public health risks posed by the widespread use of pesticides in the United States.

"Environmental health risks are a leading cause of illness due, in part, to the widespread use of pesticides, yet most physicians today receive minimal training in environmental health as part of their education and ongoing practice," said Andrea Lindell, RN, DNSc, Dean of the College of Nursing, University of Cincinnati and one of two project coordinators for the National Guidelines. "These new tools will be the foundation from which front-line health care professionals will gain the core knowledge and practice skills they need to deal with pesticides-related illness."

Pesticide toxicity involves issues beyond acute pesticide poisoning incidents in agricultural settings. Pesticides are also a concern because of potential chronic health effects from long-term exposures. In addition, pesticide exposure can occur in a number of settings outside agriculture, including urban environments, homes, and schools. The Educational Competency guidelines are designed for use in basic and advanced components of educational institutions; similarly, the Practice Skills guidelines are aimed at primary care practitioners.

NEETF, chartered by Congress in 1990, is an organization formed to develop and support environmental learning programs to meet social goals, such as improved health, better education, and "greener," more profitable business. In December 2002, a NEETF conference aimed at training health care providers to recognize and treat pesticide poisonings was cancelled after the pesticide industry complained about to EPA about its content. Responding to the industry that helped fund its campaign, the Bush Administration postponed the meeting until later notice. Outraged, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) sent a letter accusing EPA of caving in to the pesticide industry and demanded a response from the agency by January 6, 2003. EPA has not responded. Read "Pesticide Industry Hijacks Pesticides Conference" from January 10, 2003.