(Beyond Pesticides, January 29, 2006) A new state law, Assembly Bill 2865 (AB 2865-Torrico), went into effect in California, on January 1, 2007, requiring private child day care facilities to comply with new pesticide use record keeping and notification requirements. The bill also includes provisions to encourage less toxic pest management.
Assembyman Alberto Torrico (D-CA) introduced AB 2865 as an extension of the Healthy Schools Act of 2000 to day care facilities. The bill requires the facilities to notify parents about pesticide applications and to post notices in areas treated with pesticides. In addition, licensed pest control businesses are required to submit detailed reports of their pesticide applications at private child day care facilities. It is important to know however, that these requirements do not apply to family child day care homes. The bill also provides day care providers with information and trainings on least-toxic Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques to help them create a safer environment in which to care for our most vulnerable population.
According to Rachel Gibson, staff attorney for Environment California””the sponsor of the bill, “Children ages zero to five are particularly sensitive to the potentially harmful effects of pesticide exposure.” Ms. Gibson continued, “The more parents know about the pest control practices of their child’s day care, the more they can protect their kids from unnecessary pesticide exposure. Likewise, the more child care providers know about safer pest control practices, the more likely they are to use them and the safer children under their care will be.”
After learning that the vast majority of California’s children spend significant time in day cares and about the impacts of pesticides on young children, California schools activists and legislators felt the need to expand the bill to protect those most vulnerable. Among working families, 83 percent of children ages zero to five spend thirty-five hours per week on average in day care. The unique behaviors and activities of small children place them at greater risk for heavier exposure to contaminants, including pesticides, compared with adults in the same environment. Robina Suwol, executive director of California Safe Schools said that AB 2865 will provide better protection for California’s most vulnerable population.
Based on the findings of the first nationwide study recently released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, A Pilot Study of Children’s Total Exposure to Persistent Pesticides and Other Organic Pollutants (CTEPP), published in 2005, millions of children are exposed to pesticides while attending day care. This confirms that a large portion of children are being exposured to pesticides, which may have permanent, irreversible effects, during critical stages of development. The CTEPP findings include: children exposed to any pesticide or herbicide in their first year of life were more than twice as likely to suffer from persistent asthma before the age of five and that the risk of childhood leukemia increased more than six times when garden pesticides were used at least once per month. Numerous other studies show linkages of pesticides to a wide range of other adverse health effects, including altered social skills, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, nervous system disorders, immune deficiency, and several types of cancer.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has prepared a downloadable informational handout to assist day care facilities make the switch. For a free downloadable copy of “How IPM Can Help Child Day Care Facilities,” visit their website. Information is also available at California Safe Schools.