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Daily News Archive
From June 19, 2001

Children's Pesticide Exposure to be Curtailed Under U.S. Senate Education Bill

If it becomes law, schools may become safer for children and teachers, as a result of a provision in the education bill passed today (6/19/2001) in the U.S. Senate. The legislation, resulting from an historic agreement between organizations representing the environment, children and labor and groups representing the chemical and pest management industry and agriculture, the U.S. Senate included in its education bill legislation to protect children from pesticides and promote safer pest management practices in schools. The legislation, the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA) of 2001, sponsored by Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), is included in the Better Education for Students and Teachers Act, S.1, which amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
"This legislation represents a straightforward approach to promote school pest management practices that minimize risk to children and notify and provide safety information to parents and school staff when pesticides are used in the schools," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a national environmental and public health organization. "The legislation resulted from a good faith effort on the part of groups normally at odds with each other to provide parents and school staff with information on pesticide use and pest management in local schools," said Mr. Feldman. He continued, "We are pleased that the industry and public interest organizations are able to find common ground and adopt a meaningful, national, pesticide right-to-know and pest management policy."
"This legislation will provide parents and teachers across America with a basic level of safety and health protection," said Kagan Owens, Beyond Pesticides program director.
The School Environment Protection Act of 2001 (SEPA):
§ requires local educational agency's to implement a school pest management policy considering sanitation, structural repair, mechanical, biological, cultural and pesticide strategies that minimize health and environmental risks as developed by the state and EPA approved;
§ requires universal notification 3 times per year (at the beginning of the school year, midyear, and once for summer session) of school pesticide use;
§ provides parents and school staff access to health and toxicity information on all pesticides used in schools;
§ establishes a registry for parents and school staff to sign-up to receive 24 hour pre-notification of a pesticide application;
§ provides information on the pesticide's adverse health effects on the notice provided via the registry;
§ requires signs to be posted 24 hours prior to the pesticide application and remain posted for 24 hours;
§ exempts antimicrobials, baits, gels, and pastes from the notice via registry and posting requirement;
§ requires the area where a pesticide application is to take place be unoccupied;
§ requires record keeping of pesticide use and disclosure;
§ establishes 24 hour reentry period for pesticide applications made via baseboard spraying, broadcast spraying, tenting or fogging, unless the label specifies a specific reentry interval;
§ and does not preempt state or local school from adopting a policy that exceeds provisions of the act.
For more information contact Kagan Owens at kowens@beyondpesticides.org, or 202-543-5450.