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Urge State to Keep School Pesticide Ban
From: Danbury News Times
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics just announced what Canadian medical officials reported years ago: Pesticides have significant negative impacts on children.
"Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems," the report states. "The past decade has seen an expansion of the epidemiologic evidence base supporting adverse effects after acute and chronic pesticide exposure in children."
The report does not surprise Nancy Alderman. Her New Haven-based group, Environment and Human Health, worked hard to get state legislation passed that would ban pesticides on fields and lawns of schools with kindergarten through eighth grade. It became effective in July 2010.
"It is very helpful to have the medical community coming from the same place as the scientific community," Alderman said Wednesday. "Our coalition is made up of physicians, and we've been trying to reduce children's exposure to pesticides since we started in 1997."
Last spring, there was some movement to weaken the law, but it didn't have enough support beyond a committee.
But this October, the Connecticut School Grounds Management Coalition, which includes groups of athletic directors, golf course superintendents and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, sent a letter to state policy makers urging them to weaken the law.
Instead, the group wants the state to use the Environmental Protection Agency's federal guidelines, which call for the Integrated Pest Management system, which would allow pesticides.
"We were dumbfounded," Alderman said.
"This law is protecting the smallest children. Young children detoxify toxins at a much slower rate than adults," Alderman said. "Their bodies are not developed enough to detoxify toxins as well as adults. This is very important."
The academy's report states: "Recognizing and reducing problematic exposures will require attention to current inadequacies in medical training, public health tracking and regulatory action on pesticides."
Further, it notes, "Policies that promote integrated pest management, comprehensive pesticide labeling and marketing practices that incorporate child health considerations will enhance safe use."
That makes it all the more important for the state to keep the law -- as is, Alderman said.
"We are urging that the law remain in place. It was passed in the Legislature with their full knowledge that they were protecting the smallest children in school from toxins," Alderman said.
"It was a well-thought-out law. It needs to remain."
Alderman said that if anyone would look at the fields in Cheshire and Branford they would see beautifully maintained organic fields.
There are free training opportunities for grounds keepers, she said.
"There is no reason for people who are maintaining the fields not to know how to do it."
With this new powerful report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, it seems that parents would want to make sure the law stays in place as it is.
Perfect lawns and fields would be a poor substitute for healthy children.