U.S. Senate passes the School Environment Protection Act of 2001 (SEPA)

(amendment no. 805) under unanimous consent this morning as an amendment to S.1, Better Education for Students and Teachers Act, (which amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)). Please find Beyond Pesticides/NCAMP's press release below.

Letters of support are needed as S.1 moves through the Senate/House Joint Conference Committee. Write your Congress members supporting amendment #805 (SEPA) as adopted by the Senate without weakening amendments. Sample letter and more information will follow in separate email. Let me know if you want to add your organization or business to the list of supporters. For a copy of the SEPA summary or a copy of SEPA amendment language as passed, go to www.beyondpesticides.org.

----------------------------------
PRESS RELEASE
Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
701 E Street, SE, Washington DC 20003 * 202-543-5450 (phone) * 202-543-4791 (fax)
info@beyondpesticides.org * www.beyondpesticides.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   June 19, 2001 * Contact: Jay Feldman or Kaman Owens 202-543-5450

Children's Pesticide Exposure to be Curtailed Under U.S. Senate Education Bill; Historic Agreement Between Environmental, Health, Education and Labor Groups and Chemical and Pest Management Industry on School Pesticide Use.

Washington, DC, June 19, 2001 - If it becomes law, schools may become safer for children and teachers, as a result of a provision in the education bill passed last week 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 (adopted by unanimous consent today) 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."

Thirty-one states have taken some level of action in protecting children from pesticide use in, around or near their schools, according to a Beyond Pesticides report, The Schooling of State Pesticide Laws-2000. However, state laws are uneven and inadequate across the country.

Some existing state laws have adopted standards that are tougher than some of the provisions in SEPA. However, no one state law contains all the elements included in this important piece of legislation adopted by the U.S. Senate today. Under existing state laws, 16 states require prior notification be provided to parents before a pesticide application is made to their child's school. This new legislation will bring the other 34 states up to this minimum and essential standard. Also under existing state laws, only seven states require schools use a pest management system that relies on non-chemical and chemical strategies, focusing on alternative pest management methods and on minimizing pesticide use. SEPA will require all schools across the country to implement such pest management strategies.

"This legislation will provide parents and teachers across America with a basic level of safety and health protection," said Kaman 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.

Children are among the least protected population group when it comes to pesticide exposure, according to the National Academy of Sciences report, Pesticides In the Diets of Infants and Children (1993). Children, due to their small size, greater intake of air and food relative to body weight, developing organ systems and other unique characteristics, are at higher risk than adults to pesticides. Numerous studies document that children exposed to pesticides suffer elevated rates of childhood leukemia, soft tissue sarcoma and brain cancer. Studies link pesticides to childhood asthma and respiratory problems. Scientists increasingly associate learning disabilities or attention deficit disorders with low level toxic exposure because of their affect on the central nervous system.

In fall 1999, the General Accounting Office (GAO), at the request of Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), conducted a national review of the extent to which pesticides are used in and around the nation's 110,000 public schools and the magnitude of the risk of exposure to children. The GAO report, Pesticides: Use, Effects, and Alternatives to Pesticides in Schools (GAO/RCED-00-17), found that the data on the amount of pesticides used in the nation's public schools is neither available and nor collected by the federal and most state governments. The report also found that EPA is not doing enough to protect children from pesticides, and that there is limited information on how many children are exposed to pesticides in schools. The GAO cited EPA's analysis of the Poison Control Centers' Toxic Exposure Surveillance System, documenting 2,300 school pesticide exposures from 1993-1996. Because most of the symptoms of pesticide exposure, from respiratory distress to difficulty in concentration, are common and may be assumed to have other causes, it is suspected that pesticide-related illness is much more prevalent than presently indicated.

Beyond Pesticides/NCAMP is a national, grassroots membership organization, founded in 1981, that collaborates with community-based organizations and people seeking to improve protections from pesticides and promote alternative strategies that reduce or eliminate pesticide use.

##

Support for the School Environment Protection Act of 2001

National
 
Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning
American Crop Protection Association
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
American Public Health Association
Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
Center for Children's Health & the Environment, Mount Sinai School of
Medicine
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
Chemical Producers and Distributors Association
Children's Health Environmental Coalition
Clean Water Action
Consumer Specialty Products Association
Environmental Working Group
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
International Sanitary Supply Association
Kids for Saving Earth Worldwide
Learning Disabilities Association of America
National Center for Policy Research for Families and Women
National Education Association
National Parent and Teachers Association
National Pest Management Association
Natural Resources Defense Council
MCS: Health & Environment
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment

Regional

Advocacy for the Chemically Sensitive (FL)
Advocates for a Better Earth (PA)
Albany Coalition for Environmental Health (CA)
American Enzyme, Inc. (MI)
Arizona Toxics Information (AZ)
Arkansas River Coalition, Inc. (AR)
Berks Chemical Sensitivity Network (PA)
Bio-Logical Pest Management (DC)
The Breast Cancer Fund (CA)
BURNT (TN)
Cancer Awareness Coalition, Inc. (NY)
Center for Environmental Connections (AZ)
Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens (CA)
Coalition for Environmentally Safe Schools (WA)
Colorado Pesticide Network (CO)
Community & Children's Advocates Against Pesticide Poisoning (CA)
Consumers Union, Southwest Regional Office (TX)
Department of the Environment, City and County of San Francisco (CA)
Department of the Planet Earth (DC)
Eco-Cognizant, Inc. (FL)
Ecology Center (MI)
Environmental Advocates (NY)
Environment and Human Health, Inc (CT)
EnviroSafe, Inc. (MI)
Generation Green (IL)
Get Set, Inc (MI)
Grassroots Environmental Education (NY)
Green Cape Alliance for Pesticide Education (MA)
Hamilton-Wenham Pesticide Awareness Committee (MA)
Healthy Housekeeping Solutions (IN)
Healthy Kids: The Key to Basics (MA)
Healthy Schools Network (NY)
Improving Kids' Environment (IN)
Institute for Children's Environmental Health (WA)
Institute of Pest Management, Inc. (MI)
IPM Institute of North America, Inc. (WI)
International. Resource Center for Chemically Induced Immune Disorders (IL)
Iowa PTA (IA)
Lamp'l Associates (NJ)
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MA)
Marblehead Pesticide Awareness Committee (MA)
MCS: Health & Environment (IL)
Michigan Environmental Council (MI)
Minnesota Children's Health Environmental Coalition (MN)
New Jersey Environmental Federation (NJ)
New Jersey/New York Environmental Watch (NJ/NY)
New Jersey Pest Management Association, Inc. (NJ)
New York Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NY)
No Spray Zone (WA)
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (OR)
People for Environmental Action and Children's Health (WA)
Pesticide Alternatives of Santa Clara County (CA)
Polk County Council of PTA/PTSAs (FL)
Protect All Children's Environment (NC)
QCU Inc. (FL)
Residents for Alternative Pest Policy (AZ)
Safe Air For Everyone (CA)
Safe Earth Lawn & Garden Care, Inc. (IA)
Safe Solutions, Inc.
Safer Pest Control Project (IL)
Saint Paul Neighborhood Energy Consortium (MN)
Seventh Generation, Inc. (VT)
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (CA)
Sudbury Earth Decade Committee (MA)
Swampscott Pesticide Awareness Committee (MA)
Systems Pest Management
UCSF Cancer Resource Center (CA)
Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VT)
Washington Toxics Coalition (WA)
Wellesley Health Department (MA)
Women's Community Cancer Project (MA)
 
------------------------
Kaman Owens
Program Director
Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
(NCAMP)
701 E Street, S.E., Suite 200
Washington, DC 20003
phone: 202-543-5450
fax: 202-543-4791
www.beyondpesticides.org <http://www.beyondpesticides.org>

 

Return to Top