Pesticide Reform Coalition
Learning Starts With A Healthy Environment
701 E Street SE #200, Washington, DC 20003 - 202-543-5450 - [email protected]
Children are among the most vulnerable to adverse health effects of pesticides. A variety of age-related physiological factors explain the increased sensitivity that children face. Not only do younger and smaller people by nature receive a higher dose of toxics, they have a decreased ability to eliminate toxics and their target organs may be more sensitive to toxic effects. In addition, the probability of an effect such as cancer, which requires a period of time to develop after exposure, is enhanced if exposure occurs early in life.
Pesticides, toxic chemicals widely used to kill insects, weeds and fungus in schools, are a danger to children's health. Because they are poisons, low levels of pesticide exposure can have adverse effects to a child's neurological, respiratory, immune and endocrine system. Some commonly used insecticides, such as pyrethroids, stimulate nerves causing hyperexcitability. They are also associated with asthma. Some insecticides, herbicides and fungicides are linked to cancer. The commonly used weed killer 2,4-D has been linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in scientific studies.
Acute or immediate symptoms of pesticide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu - headache, nausea, dizziness, sweating, muscle aches or tremors. Other symptoms to look out for include rashes, disorientation and lack of concentration.
Former EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman unequivocally stated, "Childhood exposure to pesticides is an environmental health risk facing children today."
Fortunately, schools can significantly decrease and ultimately eliminate their use hazardous pesticides while successfully and cost-effectively managing pest problems in school buildings and on school grounds. Such safer pest management strategies, such as an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, use alternatives to the prevailing chemical-intensive practices. School IPM is not a new approach to pest management. It is a concept that has been implemented in various communities, schools and government facilities for decades.
IPM is a program of prevention, monitoring and control that offers the opportunity to eliminate or drastically reduce hazardous pesticide use in schools. IPM is intended to establish a program that utilizes cultural, mechanical, biological, and other non-toxic practices, and only introducing least hazardous chemicals as a last resort, if at all.
Find out what YOU can do to protect children from pesticides in schools. See the new report Safer Schools: Achieving A Healthy Learning Environment Through Integrated Pest Management, which features 27 school districts and schools and schools in 19 states that are successfully implementing IPM programs.
SPRC is currently developing a list to help IPM practitioners identify non-toxic and least-toxic solutions to pest problems. The list is organized by pest. To learn more, contact Beyond Pesticides.