Safer Strategies for Pest Management in Schools

December 21, 2009

Today we have a special guest post on pest management in schools, from our friends at Beyond Pesticides.


When
children attend school, it's assumed that they are going to a safe
environment, free of toxic chemicals that could harm them. New
legislation seeks to make this assumption more of a reality. With the
introduction of the School Environment Protection Act of 2009 (SEPA), H.R. 4159
, some members [PDF] of Congress and public health, school employee, children’s health and environmental groups are saying that it's time to stop the unnecessary use of dangerous
chemicals and help schools adopt afer strategies to prevent and manage
pest problems. U.S. Representative Rush Holt and 14 of his colleagues
put the legislation forward, building on more than a decade of state
and local school pest management and pesticide use policies and
on-the-ground experience from across the country.

 

SEPA
requires that all public schools adopt integrated pest management (IPM)
programs that emphasize non-chemical pest management strategies and
only use defined least-toxic pesticides as a last resort. Least-toxic
pesticides do not include pesticides that are carcinogens, reproductive
and developmental toxicants, nervous and immune system poisons,
endocrine disruptors, or have data gaps or missing information on
health effects.

 

School is a place where children need a healthy body and a clear head in order to learn. Numerous scientific studies find [PDF] that pesticides typically used in schools are linked to chronic health effects such
as cancer, asthma, neurological and immune system diseases,
reproductive problems, and developmental and learning disabilities.
Children’s bodies are especially vulnerable when exposed to pesticides,
even at low levels. IPM in schools has proven to be an effective and
economical method of pest management that can prevent pest problems and
eliminate the use of hazardous pesticides in school buildings and on
school grounds.

 

“Our
nation must and can do a better job of protecting our children from
diseases and illness that are caused because of chemical exposure,”
said Kagan Owens, senior project associate at Beyond Pesticides. “We
can start by protecting children in the place where they spend most of
their young lives — school.”

 

If you represent an organization and want to sign-on to a letter in support of the bill, please email Kagan Owens at kowens@beyondpesticides.org. To encourage your representatives to co-sponsor it, please visit Beyond Pesticidesaction page.