(Beyond Pesticides, June 7, 2007) During the first week of June 2007, the Connecticut House and Senate passed HB 5234, An Act Banning Pesticide Use on School Grounds, banning pesticides — which are often linked to learning disabilities, asthma and other health problems — from the grounds of schools grades K-8. Now activists across the state and around the country, along with the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Ed Meyer (D-Guilford), are urging Governor M. Jodi Rell to sign the bill into law and protect the health of more than 100,000 Connecticut middle school students. The bill passed 140-9 in the House on June 4, and 35-0 in the Senate on June 1.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this bill, once it is signed into law by the governor, will move us in the organic direction and improve the health of Connecticut’s younger students,” said Senator Meyer, who is co-chairman of the Select Committee on Children and vice-chairman of the Environment Committee. “Pesticides have a wide variety of side effects on young children, whose immune and nervous systems are still developing and whose low bodyweight make them susceptible to pesticide exposure.”
In 2005, Public Act No. 05-252, An Act Concerning Pesticides at Schools and Day Care Facilities, was passed in Connecticut. That law bans lawn care pesticides on the grounds of children’s day care centers and elementary schools, allowing integrated pest management (IPM) on playing fields for a three-year transition period.
However, private and public elementary schools are organized differently in different school districts, so the existing law only protects children up to grades five or six in many cases. According to Nancy Alderman of Connecticut’s Human Health and Environment, “All Connecticut school children deserve the same level of protection, and this bill provides that.”
According to the state Department of Education, as of 2006 there were 212,292 public school students in grades 1-5 and 131,210 public school students in grades 6-8.
HB 5234 expands the ban on applying lawn care pesticides to school playing fields and playgrounds to schools with students through grade eight; extends for one year (until July 1, 2009) the exemption for pesticides applied on these grounds according to certain integrated pest management (IPM) plans; expands a school superintendent’s ability to authorize emergency applications of lawn care pesticides in health emergencies; and makes the state Department of Environmental Protection responsible for administering and enforcing school pesticide applications.
TAKE ACTION: Contact Governor Rell’s office and ask her to sign HB 5234, An Act Banning Pesticide Use on School Grounds, as fast as possible. Her e-mail address is Governor.Rell@po.state.ct.us and phone number is 860-566-4840 or toll free 1-800-406-1527. The text of the bill is available online at http://www.cga.ct.gov/2007/TOB/H/2007HB-05234-R03-HB.htm.