Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
701 E Street, SE, Washington DC 20003
202-543-5450 (voice), 202-543-4791 (fax)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 13, 1999
School Environment Protection Act (SEPA) Introduced to Protect Children From Hazardous Pesticides Used In and Around Schools
Senators Torricelli and Murray unveiled legislation today that would better protect children from pesticides used in and around schools. Groups supporting the legislation called current federal law inadequate. The new bill would institute a national standard to protect children from pesticide exposure and promote the adoption of safer approaches to pest management. Children's advocacy and environmental groups, physicians, pest control companies, parents, students and teachers joined the Senators in calling for passage of the legislation.
Washington, DC, October 13, 1999 - Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey and Patty Murray of Washington today unveiled the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA) to stop hazardous pesticide use in and around school buildings. The authors and supporters, including groups representing physicians, parents, teachers, environmentalists and children, say increased protected is warranted because lax federal law and heightened sensitivity of children to pesticides used in their learning environment.
Children are among the least protected population group when it comes to pesticide exposure, according to the National Academy of Sciences report, Pesticides In the Diets of Infants and Children (1993). The report found that the EPA has failed to adopt standards necessary to protect children. Children, due to their small size, greater intake of air and food relative to body weight, developing organ systems and other unique characteristics, are at higher risk than adults to pesticides. Numerous studies document that children exposed to pesticides suffer elevated rates of childhood leukemia, soft tissue sarcoma and brain cancer. Studies link pesticides to childhood asthma and respiratory problems. Scientists increasingly associate learning disabilities or attention deficit disorders with low level toxic exposure because of their affect on the central nervous system.
The School Environment Protection Act (SEPA):
Thirty states have taken some level of action to step in and provide protective action to address pesticide use in, around or near their schools, according to a Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP) report, The Schooling of State Pesticide Laws (1999). Of those 30, only 16 states provide some level of protection against pesticides used in school buildings. Increasingly, communities across the country are adopting policies that take the most hazardous pesticides out of schools. However, advocates say protection in this area is generally uneven and inadequate across the country and that a minimum national standard is overdue.
Examples of incidents involving children and pesticides at schools include:
According to pest control operators and environmentalists, the tools to control school pests without using toxic chemicals are available nationwide and have proven to be effective and economical.
"There is no reason to expose our children to hazardous pesticides," according to Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides/NCAMP. "The tools and experience are available to ensure an environmentally safe school environment for children, and SEPA will help to put them in place nationwide," he said.
Kagan Owens, Program Director of Beyond Pesticides/NCAMP said, "Children in numerous parts of the country are continually being threaten by toxic pesticides used in their schools. Not one state law fully provides the necessary level of protection needed to decrease the risk of pesticides children and staff are exposed to while attending schools. SEPA will provide a safe and healthy environment for our children to learn."