Today, April 5, is National Healthy Schools Day, a day for public awareness coordinated by the Healthy Schools Network since 2003.
According to the campaign, “Across the U.S., there are 130,000 public and private K-12 schools enrolling some 55 million children and employing about 7 million adults–in all 20% of the total US population is in schools every day. Yet, EPA reports that half of all schools have problems with indoor pollution, a complex problem attributable to various sources, such as poor siting or engineering, leaky roofs, deferred maintenance and repairs, and the use of toxic products indoors and out.”
You can take part in National Healthy School Day by encouraging schools to reduce pesticide use.
“Polluted indoor environments are already contributing to health and attendance problems. Specifically they contribute to rising asthma cases, asthma hospitalizations during the school year, absenteeism, and other problems such as problems concentrating and headaches, as well as cancer and other long-term diseases.”
Preventing exposure to harmful chemicals improves learning outcomes, improves indoor air quality, improves attendance, and test scores and has a direct funding impact.
Call the Governor of your state and show your support for healthy schools! Some states have Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for schools but others have not taken this step toward long-term pesticide reduction. Call your governor and share your concerns with pesticide use on campuses. Ask them to support efforts to encourage ecological solutions and alternatives. See below for the number to call and suggested content. Then send me, Megan Dunn, an email about how things went (firstname.lastname@example.org)! We want to keep track of how many calls were made.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is one example of a long-term policy we helped enforce in Oregon schools and have been monitoring the success of this law and encouraging other state to the same. Call the governor of your state and thank them for supporting IPM or ask them to encourage schools in your state to reduce exposure for children!
Call and thank Governors in California and Oregon for their efforts to support IPM:
California Governor Jerry Brown: 916-445-2841
Oregon Governor Kate Brown: 503-378-4582
Call and ask Governors in Washington, Idaho and Montana to protect kids from pesticide exposure at school:
Washington Governor Inslee: 360-902-4111
Idaho Governor Otter: 208-334-2100
Montana Governor Bullock: 855-318-1330 (toll free)
Your state not listed? Click here to find your governor.
Here’s some facts you can use for your call:
- Children are more susceptible to pollution because they eat, drink and breath more than adults relative to body weight. The same concentration of pollutants will result in a higher body burden in children than adults; and children are especially susceptible and encounter a higher level of toxicants than adults due to "spatial ecology" (spending time on floors, breathing in dust, etc).
- National Academy of Sciences estimates that 3 percent of developmental disorders are solely attributed to a toxic environmental exposure and another 25 percent result, in part, from environmental factors.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that concentrations of air contaminants are often found to be 2-5 times higher indoors than outdoors due to the tighter buildings, reduction in outdoor air brought into schools for ventilation, reduced maintenance budgets, and the proliferation of indoor sources of contaminants.
- The U.S. EPA recommends that all school districts implement a policy addressing the safest possible use of pesticides and the implementation of a coordinated Integrated Pest Management program as part of a long-term and sustainable approach to mitigating pests and their impacts on children’s health.
- The costs to school districts for dealing with asthma is high and risk for exposure has been found to be higher in low income and minority schools. Over a five-year period, the incremental direct cost of asthma per person in the United States was $3,259. Absenteeism in schools cost $301 per worker and $93 per student in the U.S. (Chambers, et al, 2011).
- In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a strong statement that children should not be exposed to any pesticides and recommended Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as a solution to reduce risk (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012).