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Fight Asthma, Ask Your Child's School to Say No to Pesticides

Please consider sending a postcard to ask your child's school not to spray pesticides that contribute to childhood asthma. Download the "For My Child's Health" postcard or contact Beyond Pesticides, 202-543-5450 for hardcopies.

We know that this is it the busy back-to-school time of year and hope everything is going well! It is also the perfect time of year to remind schools that you are concerned about the use of pesticides in their facilities and on their grounds and the effectiveness of non-toxic pest management approaches. To that end, we have, with the School Pesticide Reform Coalition, put together the attached card that we would like you to send to your school in an effort to nurture the involvement of health staff. Please consider sending the card to your school. See list of parents and groups participating in the campaign launch.

The timing of this effort could not be better. Two important studies this summer confirm the need to act now to protect children now. The Journal of the American Medical Association in July published a study that documents student and school employee poisoning by pesticide use at schools. The study, Acute Illnesses Associated with Pesticide Exposure at Schools, (Vol. 294, No. 4, pp455-465), by Walter A. Alarcon, M.D. (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) et al., analyzes 2593 poisonings from 1998 to 2002 from three surveillance systems. While the analysis finds incident rates overall of 7.4 cases per million children and 27.3 cases per million employees, the authors conclude, “[T]hese results should be considered low estimates of the magnitude of the problem because many cases of pesticide poisoning are likely not reported to surveillance systems or poisoning control centers.” The authors recommend that strategies be adopted to reduce the use of pesticides at school.

The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, also released in July, releases striking new data showing widespread exposure to commonly used synthetic pyrethroid pesticide exposure, with residues carried by over 50 percent of the population. In addition to endocrine disrupting effects, all the pyrethroids are closely associated with respiratory illness and asthma, an illness of increasing concern affecting growing numbers of people, especially children.

Beyond Pesticides has also developed a 15-page color booklet, Asthma, Children and Pesticides: What you should know to protect your family. The booklet examines children's susceptibility to asthma, the differences between the causes of asthma and asthma triggers, specific pesticides linked to asthma, the demographics of asthma, tips for controlling pests linked to asthma without using pesticides and steps you can take to avoid asthma causes and triggers.

The brochure is available online or by calling Beyond Pesticides, 202-543-5450, for hardcopies.