Daily News Archive
From April 23, 2002

Pennsylvania School IPM Becomes Law

Pennsylvania passed two laws last week requiring that schools implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs. Schools are required to post notification signs 72 hours prior to indoor or outdoor applications, and signs must remain posted for 48 hours. The laws call for 72-hour universal prior notification to school staff, gives schools the choice to provide registry or universal prior notice to parents, and requires that schools adopt IPM.

Following is yesterday's press release from the Campaign to Reduce Pesticide Exposure in Schools:

Groups representing parents, teachers and the religious, public health and environmental communities hailed the passage of the Pesticide Notification Act (HB 1289 and SB 705) by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Approved by the state House and Senate after nine years of organizing and lobbying by supporters, the bills will protect students and school employees from health problems associated with the unnecessary use of pesticides in schools.

The Pesticide Notification Act would reduce the unnecessary use of pesticides by requiring public schools to adopt Integrated Pest Management, a less toxic approach to controlling pests. The Act would also prohibit pesticide applications when students will be present in the school building or on school grounds for seven hours; and would require schools to notify parents who request advance notification before applying pesticides in the school or on its grounds. The bills would take effect as of January 1, 2003.

Robert Wendelgass, Pennsylvania Director for Clean Water Action and coordinator of the Campaign to Reduce Pesticide Exposure in Schools noted that: "Studies have shown that many of the pesticides used in schools can have both short and long term health effects that range from headaches, nausea and diarrhea to cancer and birth defects. Children are particularly at risk." Kevin Stewart, Director of Environmental Health for the American Lung Association of Pennsylvania noted: "There are about 15,000 Pennsylvania children who experience at least one asthma attach in the course of a year. The Pesticide Notification Act will help parents, teachers and school officials protect these students from the known asthma attack trigger of pesticide exposure."

Tomi Waters Boylstein, President of the PA PTA commented that: "This is a landmark piece of legislation that will help protect the health of school children across the state. Reducing their exposure to toxic pesticides will help ensure that our schools don't make our children sick! It is an exciting step forward in protecting children from environmental pollutants that can affect their health." Jeff Schmidt of the Sierra Club added: "Notifying parents and employees before pesticides are sprayed is vital for protecting the health of students and staff. It will also help doctors to diagnose any illnesses that may result from the spraying."

Patsy Tallarico, President of the PA State Education Association commented: "We appreciate the leadership of Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) and Rep. Carole Rubley (R-Chester) who were the prime sponsors of the bills. Their support for these bills over the years has been critical in ensuring their ultimate passage, and we thank them for their help."

Adoption of the bills was the result of nine years of lobbying by a statewide coalition that included the Penna. PTA, Penna. State Education Association, Penna. Council of Churches and other religious groups, public health organizations like the American Lung Association, pesticide safety advocates like Grass Roots the Organic Way, and environmental groups including Clean Water Action, Sierra Club and Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Mr. Wendelgass noted: "This has been an impressive coalition that has brought together a wide array of groups to protect the health of our children. We encourage Governor Schweiker to sign the bills as soon as possible. Once they're signed, we'll start working with school districts to ensure that they implement the Act in the most health-protective way. That's the next step in making sure we provide healthy schools to our kids."

"I first began working on this legislation when my eldest son was poisoned while in nursery school, and am happy that passage of this important legislation occurred a few days before he graduates from high school. At least his younger brother, also a poisoning victim, will be better protected now," said Christine Weidner of Grass Roots the Organic Way.

For more information, contact Robert Wendelgass, Clean Water Action, 267-254-4941.