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Daily News Archive

School Pesticide Use Violations in Georgia
(from March 4, 2003)

The Georgia Department of Agriculture has cited (February 20, 2003) the Allatoona Exterminating Company of Cartersville for multiple violations of Georgia's Structural Pest Control Act for pesticides applications made at Cobb and Bartow county school systems. The violation involves more than 120 classroom buildings as well as other school system buildings.

"We have discovered numerous violations, including spraying in classrooms while children were present, unregistered employees performing treatments, incomplete records and failure to notify the schools regarding what pesticides were used," said Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture may revoke the company's license or simply fine the company, according to the Associated Press (AP). An anonymous tip to the Department sparked the investigation into the company's practices at the schools.

"We will be citing the company for a settlement conference to discuss these issues," said Irvin in a February press release." These are serious and disturbing allegations that need to be addressed."

According to the AP, Chris Mason, Allatoona's owner, told a local television station that they have "always taken pride in putting children's safety first" and denies the allegations, stating that the company only uses bait products in schools when the application area is unoccupied by students.

This incident in Georgia is not the first time children's health has been put in danger from the use of hazardous school pesticide use, whether from a pesticide misapplication or one made according to the pesticide label directions. Many schools routinely apply pesticides in classrooms, gyms, playgrounds, cafeterias and offices and most schools do not have pesticide policies. Pest management is unlikely to be a large part of a school's budget, so many administrators do not focus on it and are likely to be uniformed.

Children are more sensitive to pesticides because of their physiology and behavior.
The particular vulnerability of children to the harmful effects of pesticides has garnered nationwide attention over the past decade. The U.S. EPA, the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Senate and the National PTA, among others, echo the concerns expressed by parents at local schools.

Integrated Pest Management is an effective and economical alternative approach to the conventional chemical-intensive pest control program used at many schools across the country. IPM is a program of prevention, monitoring and pest control which offers the opportunity to eliminate or drastically reduce pesticides at schools, and to minimize the toxicity of and exposure to any products that are used.

For more information about school IPM, school pesticide exposure incidents, and local, state and pending federal laws, see Beyond Pesticides school page.