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Michigan Governor Signs School Pesticide Bill
(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2004)
Michigan’s Governor Jennifer Granholm signed a school pesticide notification and pest management bill into law on March 10, 2004, that takes a small step in furthering the states protection of children to pesticide exposure at day care centers and private and public k-12 schools. Pesticide use at schools is of heightened concern due to children’s special vulnerabilities to chemicals.

“Pesticides that linger in a child’s ‘breathing zone’ pose a risk that the child could become ill or develop long-term effects of pesticide exposure including neurological, respiratory, immune, or endocrine problems,” states the Governor’s press statement.

“Parents have the right to be notified when their children could be exposed to pesticides at their school or day care center so that they can make informed decisions about what to do, such as restricting a child’s access to certain areas or withholding the child from attending for a period of days,” Governor Granholm said. “This new law arms parents with that knowledge, so they can protect their children as they see fit.”

“I am pleased to sign this new law to create a safer and healthier environment for Michigan’s children,” Governor Granholm said. “This new law will protect children from coming into contact with chemicals and materials that could be hazardous to their health.”

Although public and private k-12 schools and day care centers were already required through regulations (promulgated in Regulation No. 637 Pesticide Use, section 285.637.14 of the Michigan Administrative Code), Public Act 24 of 2004 also requires:
-- An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs;
-- Liquid spray and aerosol insecticide applications are prohibited while area is occupied and restricts reentry for four hours or longer if so stated on the product label; and,
-- Annual notification about the school’s pest management program, pesticide use and notification provided to parents.

Provisions in the new bill that are stronger than the previous regulations include:
-- Posting notification signs at entrances 48-hours in advance of a pesticide application;
-- Providing universal 48-hour prior notification by posting a sign in a common area, email, telephone, written notice delivered by student, or posting on the school’s website;
-- Establishing a registry for parents to receive notification of a school pesticide application through the mail (postmarked 3 days before the application); and,
-- Allowing parents to review the school’s IPM and pest management records.

Although the new bill does not give priority to non-chemical pest management approaches, implementing a good IPM program is critical in reducing, and ultimately eliminating, the use of hazardous pesticides and pest problems. IPM is a pest management strategy that focuses on long-term prevention or suppression of pest problems through a combination of practices such as regular pest population monitoring, site and pest inspections, an evaluation of the need for pest control, occupant education, and structural, mechanical, cultural, and biological controls. Techniques can include such methods as sanitation, pest-proofing waste disposal, structural maintenance, good soil health, and other non-chemical tactics. Least hazardous pesticides should be selected only as a last resort, thus minimizing the toxicity of and exposure to pesticides products that are used.

Although children’s health can be impacted from exposure to pesticide baits and gel formulations, as well as sanitizers, germicides, disinfectants and antimicrobials, their use are exempted from the bill requirements.

Numerous schools and districts in Michigan have been successfully implementing school IPM programs. The Lewis Case Technical High School in Detroit and the West Ottawa Public Schools are highlighted in the Beyond Pesticides and the School Pesticide Reform Coalition report Safer Schools: Achieving A Healthy Learning Environment Through Integrated Pest Management.

For a copy of the public act, see http://www.michiganlegislature.org/documents/2003-2004/publicact/htm/2004-PA-0024.htm.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Beyond Pesticides and 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.

For more information, see Beyond Pesticides' Children and Schools issue pages.