Washington Toxics Coalition  [Printer-friendly version]
September 28, 2005


[Rachel's introduction: The Seattle School Board has adopted a
precautionary policy for pest management, aiming to minimize exposure
of students and staff to toxic chemicals.]

By Angela Storey

SEATTLE -- Last week [September 21, 2005], the Seattle School Board
unanimously adopted a cutting-edge policy to protect students from
exposure to hazardous pesticides at school. The Seattle School
District is now the largest district in the state to eliminate uses of
the most toxic pesticides.

"Seattle Public Schools takes our commitment to the health of our
students, staff, and the planet very seriously," said district Board
President Dr. Brita Butler-Wall, who pushed for adoption of the
policy. "We have embraced the concept of healthy learning environments
through a strong policy preventing possible exposure to toxic
chemicals such as pesticides."

The policy responds to growing evidence that pesticides can interfere
with children's ability to learn and cause other serious health
problems. Under the new policy, pesticides linked to cancer, nervous
system damage, and other health risks will be avoided.

The policy is a result of years of work by dedicated school district
employees, board members, and community members. A Community Advisory
Committee including district staff members, parents, doctors, and
experts drafted the policy recommendations.

The policy and procedures include:

* Use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) at all school sites, with a
focus on pest prevention and use of only least-toxic pesticides.

* Clear criteria for evaluating pesticides that eliminates the use of
pesticides that can contribute to cancer, nervous system damage,
reproductive harm, hormone disruption, or damage to the environment.
Exceptions to the criteria are evaluated for emergencies or persistent

* Prior notification of pesticide use to all parents and staff members
when the law requires, and an expanded posting system.

* Creation of an on-going IPM committee to assist with implementation,
consisting of district staff and community members.

"The Seattle School District has taken a tremendous step forward by
drawing the line and saying toxic pesticides don't belong in our
schools," said Angela Storey, healthy schools coordinator for the
Washington Toxics Coalition, and chair of the Community Advisory
Committee that drafted the policy proposal. "Pest problems can be
prevented and solved without compromising the health of our children
or our environment."

Seattle joins several other districts in Washington with strong
pesticide-reduction policies, including the Vancouver, Bainbridge
Island, and Sedro-Woolley districts. The policy will now go into
effect at all of Seattle's 100 sites.


The Washington Toxics Coalition is a 501(c)3 non-profit that
protects public health and the environment by eliminating toxic