The Healthy Schools Bill of 2003 (AB 1006, Judy Chu) would eliminate the worst pesticides from use in schools, including those known to cause developmental damage and cancer. Since children and teachers spend as many as eight hours a day in classrooms, PSR-LA believes this bill is crucial to achieving a safe, nontoxic learning environment.
Pesticides are known to cause acute symptoms such as nausea, headache, dizziness, asthma attacks, and respiratory irritation. Birth defects, nervous system disorders, reproductive problems, learning disabilities, immune deficiency, and several types of cancer have repeatedly been linked to pesticide exposure. A 2002 survey of California’s 15 largest school districts found 54 pesticide ingredients that are known or suspected carcinogens, reproductive or developmental toxins, endocrine disruptors, acute toxins and/or cholinesterase inhibitors (nervous system toxicants) may still be in use.
Children’s bodies and brains are still developing and growing. Exposure to pesticides during periods of development may have permanent, irreversible effects.
In addition, female teachers are showing sharply higher cancer rates. A recent study by the University of Southern California, UC Irvine, and the California Department of Health Services shows that female teachers, compared to other women of the same age and race in California, have a:
51 percent higher rate of breast cancer
47 percent higher rate of lymphoma
28 percent higher rate of leukemia
While these illnesses are likely not caused by pesticide use alone, they make a strong argument for precautionary action. Reducing in-classroom use of pesticides associated with cancer and developmental problems is an intelligent first step.
Many school districts are already moving towards effective, efficient, and cost-competitive non-toxic pest control, including Los Angeles Unified, Ventura Unified, and Santa Ana Unified. Safer approaches can save money by reducing health care costs for students and staff, school absenteeism, and lost staff productivity. Non-toxic methods can reduce the actual costs of pest management through better maintenance and the use of safe alternatives.
Please contact Assemblymember Judy Chu to support the Healthy Schools Act of 2003: The Honorable Judy Chu State Capitol, P.O. Box 942849 Sacramento, CA 94249-0049 (916) 319-2049