Daily News Archive
November 21, 2005
Schools Still Using Pesticides, Report Says
(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2005)
A new survey by Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides (RAMP)
found that some local school districts are still using pesticides. Pesticides
have been linked to cancers, asthma and a range of other health problems,
but only about a quarter of local schools avoid using the chemicals,
according to the report. The group studied 20 area school districts
and found that only 6 have discontinued the use pesticides.
“Twenty years ago, everyone was using pesticides, inside and outside,"
said Judy Braiman, RAMP spokeswoman, who has led the periodic surveys
since they began in 1987. "Now, with what we know about pesticides
... I'm surprised so many are still using (these chemicals)."
Four districts and three schools reported using no pesticides whatsoever.
Some schools have reduced their pesticide use, but myriad chemicals,
which have been shown in laboratory tests to pose health risks, are
still used unnecessarily near where children learn and play, Ms. Braiman
By law, New York schools are only encouraged to reduce their pesticide
use. In several other states, public schools are barred from using pesticides
unless they use integrated pest management, which focuses on taking
preventive measures and applying chemicals only as a last resort. For
the past five years, schools in New York have been required to inform
interested parents of their pesticide procedures when each school year
begins, and to post notice of pesticide applications.
“Right now 40 percent of the 42 hundred schools in the New York
State have indoor air that's polluted, and that's not only with pesticides,
but also with cleaning products,” said Ms. Braiman. Starting this
fall, New York schools are also required to use environmentally sensitive
cleaning products. (See Daily
News 8/25/05) A third of schools surveyed by RAMP over the summer
reported that they already complied with the new law.
In Penfield, mousetraps, caulking and manual weed pulling take the place
of pesticides, said James Cordaro, director of buildings and grounds.
The district has followed an IPM policy to keep pests out of the buildings
since the early 1990s. Pesticides are used only when a wasp's nest or
some other problem poses an "imminent danger" to staff or
students," he said. After the community adjusted to a dandelion-dotted
lawn, the effort was well-accepted, Mr. Cordaro said.
Ms. Braiman said
she would love to see other local schools follow his lead. "They've
shown that it can be done," she said. "No one needs to use
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 get
done. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides' Children
and Schools issue pages.