(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2008) Growing out of concern from pesticides drifting onto school grounds, the Hawaii Senate has begun looking at adopting legislation that would better protect students and staff from nearby pesticide applications.The bill, SB 3170, will establish a 1,500 foot no-spray buffer zone for all backpack applications and a half-mile buffer zone for all aerial applications around all elementary schools. It will also require a 72-hour prior written notification to all schools in the immediate area of a pesticide application as well as a one-week prior notification of all commercial use of pesticides within a five-mile radius of any school or educational institution property to the Department of Education (DOE). DOE will then notify the appropriate schools within 72-hours of the proposed application. The bill’s author, Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser, stated on his website, “A pesticide is poison. It is designed to kill. No child should be subjected to it, especially in a learning environment. To allow it doesn’t even make sense.”
Many of those that spoke at the public hearing on the bill on February 4th had been impacted by the type applications the bill is trying to prevent.
Kauai’s Garden Island Newspaper states that this past January ten students and one teacher were sent to the hospital complaining of dizziness, headaches and nausea after pesticides drifted onto the Waimea Canyon Middle School campus. Similar incidents occurred at the school in January 2007 and in November 2006, closing the school for several days. Now the Hawaii State Teachers Association has filed an injunction for Syngenta Seeds Inc. to halt its pesticide applications on the neighboring property it leases.
Last May a similar incident made students sick at Kahuku High and Intermediate School on Oahu. Ameri-Turf applied Orthene on 9,000 square-feet of its property that borders the school. The pesticide drifted onto the school grounds. As a result, the school was shut down for three days due to lingering fumes. Soil samples taken by state agriculture officials confirm the drift incident.
Kahuku’s Principal Lisa Delong told NBC’s KHNL Channel 8, “We think it is an important bill and we would encourage them to pass it so we can insure our students have a safe learning environment.”
For more information on how pesticides impact children’s health and strategies for getting pesticides out of your school, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Children and Schools webpage.