PATRICIA WOOD: Children & Pesticides

In the mid-1990s, when my two children were in grade school, I became actively involved in improving access to healthy food by creating organic school gardens in my community. I learned about the routine use of pesti­cides on school grounds and playing fields, and began to discover the scien­tific studies linking pesticide exposure with negative impacts on children’s health.

Over a period of several weeks, I had meetings with parents and decision-makers. I was able to convince our district to pass a school-board policy pro­hibiting the use of pesticides. After a few more school districts followed suit, several years later, New York State passed the most comprehensive pesticide law for schools in the country—a ban on the use of pesticides at schools, K through 12, including daycare centers. As of this writing, only Connecticut has a similar law regarding the use of pesticides at schools, prohibiting their use in grades K through 8 and daycare centers.

A robust and growing body of scientific knowledge is now linking pes­ticide exposures to a wide array of health problems in children, including asthma, neurological harm, endocrine disruption, birth defects, and certain types of cancers. This compelling research linking exposure to pesticides with serious health outcomes in our children necessitates that we use every opportunity to help reduce those exposures.

Young children are uniquely vulnerable to toxic exposures due to their immature and rapidly developing bodies and typical childlike behaviors. Pound for pound, children breathe more air, eat more food, and drink more water than adults, so the impact of any chemical contaminants in their envi­ronment is magnified. …..

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