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Home GreeniacsArticles Education School Grounds
Written by Alison Mooradian
Thursday, 16 January 2014
School Grounds
The hazardous impacts of pesticide use comprise a startling list. From cancer to birth
defects to abnormal brain development, none of these effects are something you want your
child to experience.
1
Thus the emergence of pesticide-free school grounds laws.
Pesticide Basics
While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows over 200 pesticides to be used for
lawn care , they are still intentionally toxic substances in that their main purpose is killing
pests.
2
Of the 48 most commonly used pesticides in schools, 81% are irritants, 69% are
neurotoxins, 69% are linked to kidney and liver damage, and 50% are linked to cancer.
Pesticide exposure has also been linked to asthma and asthma is currently the leading cause
of absenteeism in schools annually.
3

4
Alarmingly, lawn-care pesticides do not have to be tested by the EPA for chronic health
effects unless they are being used in food production.
5
When the EPA does test pesticides
for health effects, they focus on active ingredients within the pesticide.
6
However, in addition
to active ingredients, pesticides also contain inert ingredients. Some inert ingredients are
also extremely toxic and can comprise 90-95% of the substance.
7
Thus, the EPAs focus on
only active ingredients does not address the potential complete health impacts of pesticide
exposure.
Children are particularly susceptible to pesticides because of their decreased ability to
detoxify toxins. Children under the age of five are especially vulnerable because their cells
are reproducing at such rapid rates.
8
Children have more frequent hand-to-mouth behavior
that also increases their susceptibility. Typical routes of exposure include inhalation, skin
exposure, and accidental ingestion. Pesticide residue often ends up indoors via sports
equipment and sneakers, increasing risk for students at school as well as at home.
9

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In the United States, automobiles
produce over 20 percent of total
carbon emissions. Walk or bike and
you'll save one pound of carbon for
every mile you travel.
States Take Action
Connecticut made history in 2005 by becoming the first state to ban synthetic pesticide use
on school grounds at public elementary schools.
10
The law was expanded to cover day care
centers and middle schools several years later.
11
Unfortunately, amending the law to include
high schools has proven to be difficult, despite the fact that teenagers are also susceptible to
the negative impacts of pesticides.
12
The pesticide industry lobbys influence on the
Connecticut State government combined with citizen concern over high school field
aesthetics has made it challenging to keep even the current law in place. In fact, in March
2012 the statewide law faced the threat of a complete repeal.
13


14
A rollback of the Connecticut law would have allowed Integrated Pest Management
(IPM) as a practice. The EPA states, Integrated Pest Management is an effective and
environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of
common-sense practices IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options
including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides.
15
Since IPM does not forbid the
use of synthetic pesticides, this would be a major setback in ensuring childrens health at
schools. Since avoiding a repeal, supporters of pesticide-free school grounds in Connecticut
are still working to expand the legislation to include high school campuses.
16

Although the pesticide-free school grounds law has caused turmoil in Connecticut, New York
was inspired to pass similar legislation. In March 2010, New York passed the Child Safe
Playing Fields Act, which prohibits the use of synthetic pesticides on day care and K-12
school grounds. The law went into effect in May 2011 and so far has been implemented
successfully.
17

Awareness about the dangers of pesticides continues to grow. New Jersey, New Hampshire,
Rhode Island, and Maine have all proposed similar pesticide ban legislation in recent
years.
18
Many states have pesticide treatment notification laws, meaning that parents must
be notified if their childs school grounds are going to be sprayed with pesticides so that their
child can stay off of fields during that time.
19
Additionally, many towns, from Wellfleet,
Massachusetts to Takoma Park, Maryland to Santa Cruz, California, have passed municipal
bans on pesticide use on town-owned land.
20

These jurisdiction-based bans provide case studies showing that synthetic pesticides are not
necessary to keep athletic fields in good condition. Natural methods such as aeration, over-
seeding, and application of compost and fertilizers have proved to be effective when
applied appropriately.
21
These State and town actions are encouraging and hopefully the
movement towards pesticide-free lawn care will continue to grow in the future.
Browse all Greeniacs Articles
_______________________________________________________________________________
1
http://www.watershedpartnership.org/?page_id=161
2
http://ehhi.org/reports/lcpesticides/summary.shtml
3
http://www.citizenscampaign.org/campaigns/pesticide-free-schools.asp
4

http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/640/?view=flat
5
http://ehhi.org/reports/lcpesticides/summary.shtml
6
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/human.htm
7
http://ehhi.org/reports/lcpesticides/summary.shtml#health
8
http://ehhi.org/reports/lcpesticides/
9
http://www.grassrootsinfo.org/pdf/qatp.pdf
10
http://www.panna.org/blog/connecticuts-pesticide-free-schools-under-attack
11
http://www.cfgnh.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Public/giveANDlearn-reports/
ShoreLineTimes_Article_July_10_2009%20pesticide%20bill.pdf
12
http://www.citizenscampaign.org/campaigns/pesticide-free-schools.asp
13
http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/school_pesticide_ban_faces_rollback_threat/
14

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJvkoXPvHuM&feature=youtu.be
15
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/ipm.htm
16
http://www.citizenscampaign.org/campaigns/pesticide-free-schools.asp
17
Id.
18
http://action.beyondpesticides.org/p/dia/action/public/index.sjs?action_KEY=9658
19
http://www.grassrootsinfo.org/pdf/qatp.pdf
20
http://www.beyondpesticides.org/lawn/activist/
21

http://www.grassrootsinfo.org/pdf/qatp.pdf
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