Pesticide Regulation202-331-1010 • www.cei.org • Competitive Enterprise Institute
in the press about this report, the findings areanything but alarming. The data indicate veryfew problems associated with pesticide use inor near schools. Over a four-year period, thereport finds no fatalities and only three seriouscases of pesticide exposure–related illnesses.We have no details on these three cases, but the“high severity” category indicates unfortunateaccidents that may have been life threatening orrequired hospitalization.The rest of the nearly 2,600 cases involvedtemporary reactions to chemicals that left nolong-term effects. The vast majority—89 percentof the cases—were categorized as “low severity,”involving such things as skin irritation, dizziness,headaches, or possible emotional stress associ-ated with exposure to chemicals. Given that thestudy measures four years of incidents amongabout 50 million school-age children, these dataindicate an incredibly impressive safety record,despite the spin to the contrary.
Risks Associated withUncontrolled Pest Problems
In contrast to the relative safety of pesticideuse in schools, problems related to pests remainsignificant. Consider just some of the risks.
School Planning and Manage-ment
, cockroaches “often infest schools” andthey can “carry pathogens that can cause pneu-monia, diarrhea, and food poisoning. Theirdroppings can inflame allergic or asthmatic
Propeck, Dorothy S. Tibbetts, Alan Becker, MichelleLackovic, Shannon B. Soileau, Rupali Das, John Beck-man, Dorilee P. Male, Catherine L. Thomsen, and Mar-tha Stanbury, “Acute Illnesses Associated with PesticideExposure at Schools,”
Journal of the American Medical Association
294, no. 4 (2005): 455–65.
conditions, especially in young children.”
Cockroaches are indeed a serious problem inschools.According to one study published in
En-vironmental Health Perspectives
in 1995,“Allergens associated with dust mites andcockroaches are probably important in bothonset and worsening of asthma symptoms forchildren who are chronically exposed to theseagents.”
Cockroaches appear to be a large partof the problems related to childhood asthmaand allergies. Researchers reported in the
NewEngland Journal of Medicine
that 36 percentof children in a sample of 476 suffered fromcockroach-related allergies.
Children whosuffered from this type of allergy missed moredays of school, had more unscheduled hospitaland doctors’ office visits, and lost more sleepthan children suffering from other allergies.Other reports have found that early exposureto cockroach allergens may contribute to thedevelopment of asthma for some children.The Centers for Disease Control and Pre-vention (CDC) has reported that 12 percent of children in 2004—9 million children—had atsome point in their lives been diagnosed withasthma, and that year four million had suffered
6. Zia Siddiqi, “Don’t Let a Pest Problem Be Your Big-gest News,”
School Planning and Management
43, no. 5(2004): 42–49.7. Floyd J. Malveaux and Sheryl A. Fletcher-Vincent,“Environmental Risk Factors of Childhood Asthma inUrban Centers,”
Environmental Health Perspectives
103,suppl. 6 (1995): 59–62.8. David Rosenstreich, Peyton Eggleston, Meyer Kat-tan, Dean Baker, Raymond G. Slavin, Peter Gergen,Herman Mitchell, Kathleen McNiff-Mortimer, HenryLynn, Dennis Ownby, and Floyd Malveaux, “The Role of Cockroach Allergy and Exposure to Cockroach Allergenin Causing Morbidity Among Inner-City Children withAsthma,”
New England Journal of Medicine
336, no. 19(1997): 1356–63.