Thursday, May 1, 2014

State Health Study Identifies Students at Highest Risk From Pesticides Near Their Schools

A new state study used pesticide use report data to identify which students in California are most at risk from pesticides. 

The highest risk of danger came from fumigants, but the use of carcinogens, reproductive and developmental toxins, and other harmful substances was spread over 25% of schools.

The report is especially helpful since it looks solely at substances with known harmful effects (instead of all substances).

Find more coverage about the report's assessment of Monterey County from the Monterey County Weekly here. Of all 15 counties evaluated, Monterey County had the highest proportion of students near the most pesticide applications. 

Listen to the California Report's radio coverage here.

Reaction in San Joaquin County to the report by the county's ag commissioner aptly portrays the ag culture  in the heavily pesticides region. Here's a brief excerpt from the San Joaquin County coverage:
"Gary Caseri, who as interim county agricultural commissioner regulates pesticide use locally, said the report released by the California Department of Public Health "leaves a lot to be desired." 
"Growers in general are not going to be applying materials when school is in session or due to be in session. They can schedule their applications at other times," he said.
And, again, the report saying pesticides are used on fields near schools does not mean students are being harmed 
"There's no relationship between materials moving between Point A to Point B and getting on school grounds," Caseri said Tuesday."
Protests took place in Salinas in Monterey County this week over pesticide use near schools, supporting the report's findings. A proposed law (SB 1411) to require notification over pesticide application timing failed in the California legislature. Retired teacher and coach Patrick Egan and student Miguel Valdivia, a 17 year old school athlete, were among those at a Monterey County protest, talking first hand about pesticide interference in school athletics. See the video here.

The's coverage quoted UFW leader Jesus Valenzuela as saying,“The children demonstrate the effects of pesticide poisoning before anybody else. It’s time to stop treating our children like society’s canaries in a coal mine when it comes to pesticides, as Cesar Chavez used to say.”

The state report only looked at the top 15 pesticides counties and does not include info on North Coast regions. However many of the same concerns apply.

Moms Advocating Sustainability has recently opened a new Napa chapter to educate county officials and parents on removing pesticides, herbicides and fungicides from school property. Their blog provides a video and report on the group's first workshop. You can read/see it here.

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