For Immediate Release
Jay Feldman, Kagan Owens, 202-543-5450
Federal Bill Introduced to Protect Children from School Pesticide Use; New Study Documents State Progress in the Adoption of Safer Practices
Cancer causing pesticides ... endocrine disruptors ... pesticides linked to neurological and immune system problems ... asthma and learning disabilities.
WASHINGTON - When children attend school, it
is assumed that they are going to a safe environment, free of toxic
chemicals that could harm them. New legislation seeks to make this
assumption a reality. With the introduction of the School Environment
Protection Act of 2009 (SEPA), H.R. 4159, members of Congress
and public health, school employee, children's health and environmental
groups are saying that it is time to stop the unnecessary use of
dangerous chemicals and assist schools in the adoption of safer
strategies to prevent and manage pest problems. U.S. Representative Rush
Holt and 14 of his colleagues put the legislation forward with the
foundation of 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.
Also excluded from the definition are outdoor pesticides that adversely
affect wildlife, have high soil mobility, or are groundwater
contaminants. The legislation prohibits synthetic fertilizers from being
used on school grounds due to their adverse impact on healthy soils,
plants, and turf, and associated environmental impacts. A public health
emergency provision allows the use of a pesticide, if warranted. In this
case, notification of the pesticide application is required to be
provided to all parents and guardians of students and school staff.
Cleaning agents with pesticides fall under the bill's purview. The
legislation establishes a 12-member National School IPM Advisory Board
that, with the help of a technical advisory panel, will develop school
IPM standards and a list of allowable least-toxic pesticide
products. In addition, under the language each state is required to
develop its IPM plan as part of its existing state cooperative agreement
with the U.S. EPA.
School is a place where children need a healthy body and a clear head in
order to learn. Numerous scientific studies find 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.
In a newly released report, The Schooling of State Pesticide Laws
-2010 Update, Beyond Pesticides finds that 21 states recommend or
require schools to use IPM, a 24 percent increase since the original
report was written in 1998. While this growth is occurring and
other measures are being taken to provide written notice prior to
pesticide use (24 states, a 30 percent increase), the majority of school
children continue to be exposed to toxic pesticides while at school.
Beyond Pesticides finds that only 35 states have taken limited action to
step in and provide protective measures to address pesticide use in,
around or near their schools. These include a mixture of pesticide
restrictions and parental notification and posting of signs before
certain pesticides are used. Protection under state laws is uneven across
the country and children in 15 states are provided no protection at
"We applaud Rep. Holt and the cosponsors of this legislation for
leading the nation on a course that recognizes that children and teachers
are best served by a learning environment that does not expose them to
toxic pesticides," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond
"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."
For the bill summary go to:
For the list of initial bill supporters go to:
For a copy of "The Schooling of State Pesticide Laws -Update
2010," go to
See also "Children and Pesticides Don't Mix" at
for scientific articles linking pesticide exposure to adverse effects in
For a copy of the bill text, go to
For SEPA press release, go to
For more information, contact Jay Feldman or Kagan Owens at
Beyond Pesticides, 202-543-5450.
Beyond Pesticides (formerly National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides) works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides.