Pesticides In Schools
This brochure points out some of the many ways US children’s health can be affected by pollutants. On the topic of pesticides, children take in several times the amount of air, water, and food than adults compared to their size and thus are subject to higher amounts of pesticide residues. Exposure during developmental years may cause pesticides to be more toxic. Continuous exposure to pesticides can cause acute poisoning as well as “disruption of the hormone and immune systems, respiratory problems, neurological damage, and cancer.” Added expenditure to the US from health disorders of environmental origin are as follows:
$2.0 billion for asthma, including $1.78 billion from school days lost,
$9.2 billion for neurobehavioral disorders, including $64,107 for special education
$332 million for environmentally attributable pediatric cancer, cost per case of childhood cancer is estimated to be approximately $623,000 (in 1998 dollars)
The estimated annualized cost of cancer for children under 15 years of age is $4.8 billion (in 1998 dollars).
Estimated cost taken from:
Environmental Pollutants and Disease in American Children: Estimates of Morbidity, Mortality, and Costs for Lead Poisoning, Asthma, Cancer, and Developmental Disabilities. Landrigan P.J. et al., Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 110 (2002)
BIOLOGICAL MONITORING SURVEY OF ORGANOPHOSPHOROUS PESTICIDE EXPOSURE AMONG PRE-SCHOOL CHILDREN IN THE SEATTLE METROPOLITAN AREA. Lu C. et al.,
Environmental Health Perspectives 109(3):299-303 (2001) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11333193
In this study, 99% of urinary samples from children in two communities contained at least one DAP metabolite (dialkylphosphate, the common metabolites of the OP pesticides) and 70-75% contained (DMTP and DETP). Urine samples were taken from 110 children ranging from two to five years of age living in Seattle metropolitan areas. These common compounds in OP pesticides were consistently found through “season, community, sex, age, family income, or housing type” and did not differ due to reported use in residences or on household pets. This signifies that pesticide exposure is due in part to diet and public areas such as schools or playgrounds.
PESTICIDE EXPOSURE AND STUNTING AS INDEPENDENT PREDICTORS OF NEUROBEHAVIORAL DEFICITS IN ECUADORIAN SCHOOL CHILDREN. Grandjean P, et al.,
Pediatrics 117(3):546-556 (2006) http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/117/3/e546?eaf
This group of doctors from lead universities and health centers, including Harvard and the National Center for Environmental Health examined possible side effects in school-aged children due to prenatal exposure to pesticides. 31 of 72 children were classified as stunted based on height per age. A study of maternaloccupational history revealed 37 were exposed to pesticides during development. Increased blood pressure and lower scores on Stanford-Binet copying (lower drawing score for copying designs) also correlated to prenatal pesticide exposure.
Many schools have a routine schedule for pesticide application to school grounds, both indoor and outdoor, whether pests are present or not. Pesticides however do not work in a preventative manner and do not stop pests from entering schools. Therefore, when pesticides are routinely sprayed when pests are not present children and school staff are exposed to unnecessary toxic chemicals. Pest management cost and hazards would be cut with long term solutions rather than temporary control such as pesticides. While successfully and cost-effectively managing pest problems in school buildings and on school grounds we can reduce our childrens’ exposure to pesticides while at school, where they spend many hours and years.
According to entomologist and professor in Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Marc Lame, the majority of insect insecticides used are nerve poisons, which cause nerves to fire in an uncontrolled manner and disrupt endocrine (hormone) systems. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can result in similar effects on the human nervous system, with symptoms ranging from vomiting to severe breathing problems. Further research indicates these insecticides may cause ADHD, autism, and infertility. Children are at a high risk of prolonged exposure during school years.
Furthermore, pesticides do not eliminate pest-friendly environments and are often ineffective long term. This is especially true given that most common pests such as insects and weeds are now resistant to the insecticides and herbicides meant to control them. Pest problems are better managed with an integrated approach that involves recognition and remediation of conditions that attract pests or allow pests to enter facilities. As well, most insect and weed pests may be a nuisance, or raise aesthetic issues, but do not pose a threat to children’s health. Pesticides should never be used for cosmetic results alone.
The elimination of toxic chemical exposure is especially important because as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Todd Whitman has stated, “Childhood exposure to pesticides is an environmental health risk facing children today.”
Protecting Children in Schools from Pests and Pesticides. EPA-735-F-02-014. Office of Pesticide Programs. U.S. EPA. (2002)
The implementation of safer pest management practices that do not rely on hazardous pesticides has been enforced by 27 school districts and schools in 19 states.
INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT (IPM) IN SCHOOLS: PROTECTING CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS FROM PESTS AND PESTICIDES Office of Pesticide Programs, EPA
The EPA has developed a program for schools to reduce the use of pesticides in our community. This program is voluntary, and still advocates the use of pesticides but the EPA recognizes that children are more sensitive biologically and are expected to have further exposure through normal activities than adults. EPA’s introduction to integrated pest management warns that pesticides need to be “used carefully and judiciously, especially when used in sensitive areas where children are present” and states “children are more sensitive than adults to pesticides.”
Region 1 of the EPA’s IPM program includes New Hampshire and an area specific campaign: “Children First” is an ongoing effort “to reduce asthma,… and other diseases that are prevalent among children and which have an environmental basis. "Children First" is focused on creating healthier environments in the three places children spend most of their time -- at home, in schools and outdoors.”
The LEAH Collective supports the EPA’s advice for protecting children where they spend a majority of their time and enacting strict pesticide policies in local schools.
This document lists the 40 pesticides commonly used in schools, which was gathered from reports and surveys conducted by 19 states, including the northeast states of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, and Vermont. Organized into a table, each pesticide is linked to health problems by probability or whether the effects have been demonstrated. While 3 pesticides on the list have demonstrated cancer, 13 others earned “probable” or “possible” human carcinogen ratings from the EPA. Including the herbicides commonly used to kill unwanted plants: 2,4-D, Benefin, Dacthal (DCPA), Glyphosate, Isoxaben, MCPP, Pendimethalin, Pronamide and Trifluralin. Additional health problems linked to these chemicals include, reproductive, developmental and neurological issues, and disruption of kidneys, liver and the endocrine system.
The Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s is intended to protect human health and the environment. OPP highlights the possibility of children being exposed and affected by pesticides around schools and day care centers. Therefore it proposes initiatives such as IPM in Schools, which “seeks to obtain a significant reduction in both pest complaints and pesticide use in schools.” As well as manages two grants programs that fund IPM in schools:
(1) OPP’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP), a voluntary
membership and grants program (with over 200 members and $500,000 a year in grants) that works with the nation’s pesticide-user community to reduce human health and environmental risks associated with pesticide use. PESP Regional grants have, over the past decade, funded over 25 IPM in School projects across the country; and
(2) Pesticide Registration Improvement Act grants, which in the past three years has provided $500,000 for two projects to foster IPM implementation in all of the nation's schools. (pg 9)