Danger of Pesticides to Children in Homes and Schools

Pesticides have become the first choice for many people when they see spiders, mice or insects. Even when properly applied, pesticides can still affect people. Asthma and other respiratory problems related to pesticides are increasing. Pesticides can end up in our lakes and rivers, killing the fish and polluting the water.

Of special concern are the areas where our children learn and play–schools, parks and playgrounds. Now Oregon schools are required to have a management plan that includes alternatives to pesticides.

The Corson & Johnson Law Firm is currently working with the Northwest Center for Alternative Pesticides (NCAP) to support legislation that puts children’s health first by requiring the use of safer products at schools, parks and playgrounds. Because of their size, immaturity and sense of adventure, children face the greatest health risks from exposure to pesticides.

The primary focus of NCAP is to inform and educate communities about the dangers of pesticide use and assist in the process of change to ensure children are no longer exposed to these dangers at school. NCAP has started a test project in several school districts including Bethel that we hope will become a statewide model. The project will work directly with superintendents, groundskeepers and maintenance staff to develop and implement effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policies. IPM emphasizes pest prevention and non-chemical pest control techniques instead of harmful pesticides. IPM policies have already reduced pesticide use in schools and public buildings by more than 70 percent.

A 2007 study of more than 29 school districts found that nearly half were in violation of legal requirements relating to safe pest management at that time. Three districts even had illegal pesticides on the premises. NCAP recently discovered the use of rat bait within reach of kindergarten students at one Oregon school.

If you have concerns about the use of pesticides around your children, ask to see your school’s plans.

Where Our Children Learn & Play: Pesticide Fact Sheets

For more information about the dangers of pesticides and what you can do to help, visit the NCAP website.