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Thousands of School Kids Sickened by Pesticides

Pesticide use in or near U.S. schools sickened more than 2,500 children and school employees over a five-year period, a nationwide report found. Most of the illnesses were in children, and the number of children affected each year climbed from 59 to 104 among preschoolers and from 225 to 333 among children aged 6 to 17. Pesticide sources included:

  • Chemicals to kill insects and weeds on school grounds
  • Disinfectants
  • Farming pesticides that drift over nearby schools

    A representative of the Healthy Schools Network advocacy group said the total reported is likely a "deep undercount" because there are about 54 million U.S. schoolchildren and yet no comprehensive national tracking system for pesticide-related illness.

    The long-term impacts of pesticide exposures have never been comprehensively evaluated, so no one knows for sure what the health effects could be. However, numerous studies have discovered that pesticides may contribute to:

  • Infertility
  • Birth defects, miscarriages and stillbirths
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Learning disorders
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Cancer of the breast, prostate and lymphatic system

    The authors said the study underscores the need to reduce pesticide use through pest management programs that typically require schools to use pesticides as a last resort and to implement advance written notification when the chemicals are used. The guidelines also often recommend that spraying in schools or in nearby fields should occur only when students and staffers are not present. As it stands, only 17 states recommend or require schools to have such programs.

    Journal of the American Medical Association July 27, 2005; 294:455-465

    Yahoo News July 26, 2005

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