Friday, November 30, 2012

Pesticide Regulations in the News

This week the American Academy of Pediatricians published a report titled "Pesticide Exposure in Children". Which, unsurprisingly for pesticide-reduction advocates, found that pesticide exposure both from fields and lawns and from foods, is unhealthy for children.  Eileen Fitzgerald with the News Times wrote an article on Wednesday November, 28 connecting these findings to the importance of maintaining Connecticut's ban on pesticides in K-8 schools.  The article, titled "Urge state to keep school pesticide ban" outlines the findings of the AAP report and interviews one of Connecticut's forefront pesticide safety advocates, Nancy Alderman president of the organization  Environmental and Human Health, Inc.  based in New Haven.  The article also brings attention to an alarming letter sent to Connecticut's policy lawmakers from the Connecticut School Grounds Management Coalition urging them to weaken the pesticide ban.  

*Side note: One of the greatest proponents of pesticide regulation roll-back, and who is partically responsible for this letter, is a group named the Connecticut Environmental Council, which recently won a place on Toxics Action Committee's list of "The Dirty Dozen".  Read the "Dirty Dozen Report" and this post in the Courant Blog for more information!

Back to the AAP Report. It finds that: "Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity. Acute poisoning risks are clear, and understanding of chronic health implications from both acute and chronic exposure are emerging. Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems . . . Recognizing and reducing problematic exposures will require attention to current inadequacies in medical training, public health tracking, and regulatory action on pesticides."
The report warns about exposure to pesticides from the landscape, but also states that "diet may be the most influential source [of pesticides], as illustrated by an intervention study that placed children on an organic diet (produced without pesticide) and observed drastic and immediate decrease in urinary excretion or pesticide metabolites." 

This report is also illuminating, because it also explains how to read a pesticide label to prevent dangerous exposure for adults and children.  The very first "signal word" that identifies toxicity is a US Environmental Protection Agency registration number.  There has been a lot of confusion (mostly because of misinformation distributed by the pesticide industry) that EPA registration means a product is safe for the environment and for people, when really, the complete opposite is true.  

The last two lines of the Fitzgerald's article seem to make the choice clear: "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."
Eileen FitzGerald: Urge state to keep school pesticide ban Read the AAP Report: Policy Statement: Pesticide Exposure in Children

If you are worried about these findings, and the ban, write to your state congressman and senator today reinforcing your support for Connecticut's pesticide ban.  If you would like to encourage more regulations in your town's parks and public lands, check out our website's page for towns: