Washington Schools Urged to Reduce Pesticide Use with Integrated Pest Management Policy
Leading environmental health group praises stronger protections for school children and employees
Olympia, Wash. – The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) has commended Sen. Maralyn Chase (D-32nd District, Shoreline) for her introduction last week of a bill to protect children from pesticide exposure in Washington schools. The bill would require Washington school districts to implement integrated pest management programs by Sept. 1, 2016.
“In order to perform their best, students need a healthy school environment,” said Megan Dunn, the Northwest Center’s Healthy People and Communities program director. “If a school relies on chemical pesticides to control pests, indoor air quality is compromised and negatively impacts the learning environment.”
Integrated pest management is an approach to pest control that emphasizes the use of non-chemical pest control measures.
“I submitted this bill because chemical pesticides aren’t appropriate pest control techniques in places where our children are trying to learn,” said Chase. “SB 6002 protects students and teachers across Washington and promotes a healthy learning environment.”
Currently, only half of Washington schools have pesticide reduction policies. In an effort to protect all students from pesticide exposure, the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington State Department of Health, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Washington State University Extension recently sent schools a letter encouraging adoption of integrated pest management policies as a means to reduce pesticide exposure.
Oregon passed a similar bill in 2009 as part of an ongoing effort to reduce pesticide exposure among school children and requires reduced pesticide for all schools and community colleges.
Poor indoor air quality, caused in part by pests and pesticides, leads to increased asthma attacks, lower test scores and lower attendance rates, according to the Washington State Department of Health. Research studies reveal that strong integrated pest management policies have been found to reduce school costs over time. The Washington PTA and National PTA support reducing pesticide use in schools to improve improving indoor air quality.
NCAP worked with Senator Chase to create the bill and will support a corresponding bill in the House. SB 6002 is co-sponsored by Senators Keiser, McAuliffe, McCoy, Hasegawa and Jayapal.
“This is an important next step for schools in Washington,” Dunn said. “All children have the right to learn in a healthy school environment. Parents shouldn’t have to worry about what chemicals their children are being exposed to 180 school days a year. Pesticides in and around schools are unnecessary and avoiding these chemicals will improve education and attendance.”
The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) works to protect community and environmental health and inspire the use of ecologically sound solutions to reduce the use of pesticides.
 According to Washington State University, only 54% of survey responders had an IPM policy and designated IPM coordinator. In Oregon, where IPM in schools is required, 82% have a written IPM policy and 95% have a designated IPM coordinator.