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New Illinois Law Requires Child Care Centers Protect Children From Pests and Pesticides
(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2003) Illinois Governor Rod Blagojovich signed a new law that protects children in licensed day care centers from exposure to hazardous pesticides and pests (Senate Bill 1079) on July 24, 2003. The legislation passed both chambers unanimously. The new Illinois law requires licensed day care facilities to practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and to notify parents two days prior to and not more than thirty days in advance of pesticide applications; ensure that pesticides will not be applied when children are present at the facility; and remove toys and other items mouthed or handled by children from the area before pesticides are applied.

"Senate Bill 1079 is an issue that is of growing concern for the parents of young children enrolled in day care centers throughout the state. Children's health should always be the top priority for lawmakers. I have made it mine by sponsoring this measure to insure that parents are notified at least two days in advance of the application of any harmful pesticides in a day care center. This will go a long way in protecting children from the harmful effects of these chemicals and those who suffer from allergies and asthma. The signing of this legislation into law is just another example of Governor Blagojevich's commitment not only to public health and safety but also to the children of Illinois," stated State Senator Iris Y. Martinez (D-20).

A recent survey of child care centers in the Chicago area conducted by Safer Pest Control Project found that 71% of respondents have or have had pest problems, and 45% of respondents spray pesticides to control pests. Studies have linked pesticide exposure to cancer and birth defects as well as certain neurological, behavioral, reproductive, hormonal, and immune system disorders. Recently released studies link early childhood exposures to both pests and pesticides to significantly elevated risks of developing future cancers and asthma. Cockroaches, dust mites, pesticides, rodent dander and mouse urine have all been linked to asthma and identified as environmental triggers. It is important that steps are taken to protect children with asthma from these environmental triggers. The survey results found that 91% of childcare centers have children in their care with asthma or other respiratory problems. Integrated Pest Management has been proven effective in reducing pest-related environmental triggers of asthma.

Safer Pest Control Project, a non-profit organization based in Chicago, was instrumental in helping to get this law written and passed. State Senator Iris Martinez (D-20) and State Representative Elizabeth Coulson (R-17) championed the bill along with a host of other co-sponsors in both chambers.

"This legislation protects children from the harmful effects of pesticides and establishes a healthy environment for their care and protection," said Rachel Rosenberg, Executive Director of Safer Pest Control Project.

"As an alliance committed to advancing the quality of child care in Illinois, we are pleased that our State Legislators and Governor understand the importance of protecting children in child care homes and centers from these environmental hazards," said Maria Whelan, Executive Director of the Day Care Action Council of Illinois.

Death rates from asthma in Chicago are among the highest in the country, particularly among minorities living in low-income communities. Regulating the use of pesticides and encouraging the use of IPM in all day care facilities will make a big impact on the future health of young people in Illinois.

Safer Pest Control Project, an independent non-profit, is dedicated to reducing the public health risks and environmental impacts of pesticide use and promoting safer alternatives in Illinois. SPCP promotes the use of IPM, a proven method of pest control that eliminates the root cause of pest problems using a variety of non-toxic measures, such as improved maintenance and sanitation, which minimize pests' access to food, water, and hiding places. Existing pest problems are handled in the least hazardous way in order to minimize pesticide use, toxicity, and risk of exposure. Because IPM involves simple, common sense measures, it is an effective, economical strategy that is easily implemented.

For more information on Illinois' new law, contact Julie Dick at SPCP or 312-759-8267. To find out information on other state laws and local school pesticide/pest management policies, see Beyond Pesticides Schools Program Page.