Daily News Archive
From September 11, 2006                                                                                                        

Study Finds Pesticide Residues at Day Care Centers Around the Country
(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2006)
In a report released on September 6, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that child daycare centers throughout the U.S. were found to expose children to residues from pesticide spraying.

Collaborating with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, HUD conducted a study of 168 child care centers across the country, from July through October 2001. Sixty-three percent of centers studied reported pesticide applications, the majority of which were pyrethroids and organophosphates. However, researcher Nicolle Tulve said, “We found at least one pesticide in every daycare center.” According to the results, centers used anywhere between one and ten different pesticides at a frequency between one and 107 times a year (or once every three and a half days). The conclusion of the study was that “results show that there is the potential for exposure to pesticides in child care centers.”

While this first nationwide study of pesticide residues in daycare centers is an introduction to what children may be exposed to while not at home, there remain questions. Lynn Goldman, professor at Johns Hopkins and former head of EPA’s pesticide program, expressed disappointment that the study did not provide total amounts of exposure children face at daycare. Aggregate exposures might help target individuals with chemical sensitivities.

The opportunity provided by this study is to reevaluate how and why pesticides are applied around children. Goldman mentioned the importance of training workers in safety while applying pesticides, as well as choosing a pesticide with the least risk of leaving residues where children can reach and play. Rather than spraying, Goldman prefers bait traps, which, if contained in inaccessible areas, prove less risky to children.

Integrated pest-mangement (IPM), which has been embraced by schools throughout the country, can help to reduce residue exposure. Massachusetts has passed a law requiring all schools to submit an IPM plan, while California and New York have considered bills to reduce exposure and increase the availability of information on pesticide applications.

For more information on your state’s school pesticide laws, follow the links through your state’s page.

For least-toxic and alternative pest management techniques for a variety of pests, go here.