American Legislative Exchange Council, October 28, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: The chemical industry wants to halt a trend sweeping the nation that is reducing children's exposure to chemical pesticides in schools. Here is some of the industry's reasoning.]


Anti-chemical activists are pushing for bills to eliminate or drastically reduce the use of pesticides in schools. Some measures attempt to completely ban pesticides in schools, others attempt to greatly reduce pesticides in schools, while others mandate onerous paperwork requirements that discourage pesticide use.

The bills are unnecessary because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency already requires extensive pesticide testing and conducts risk assessments on various subpopulations, including children, to insure that no sensitive individuals are at risk.

Additionally, the Food Quality Protection Act now requires that manufacturers of pesticides specifically consider the possibility of sensitivity to infants and children from exposure, which often requires an extra 'safety protection factor' for use.

Exposure levels to humans from pesticide use are required to be at least 100 times (required by law and sometimes this increases to 300 or even a 1000 times) below the no-observed adverse effect level in the most sensitive species, using the most sensitive toxicological endpoint. Thus, there is inherent conservatism in the permissible exposure levels established for safe use by humans.

Pesticide restrictions in schools do more harm than good by failing to balance the virtually nonexistent pesticide risks against the very real harm done to children by allowing insects and rodents to thrive, resulting in increased allergy and disease problems.

Talking Points:

* The Environmental Protection Agency rigorously tests all commercial pesticides to ensure that children will not be harmed by pesticide exposure.

* EPA errs on the side of extreme caution in its exposure assumptions, resulting in maximum exposure levels that are typically tens, hundreds, of even thousands of times less than what would be necessary for any plausible health risk to exist.

* Pesticides play a vital role in protecting our children in school. This is especially true considering that most schools provide on-site lunch services that are a magnet for ants, roaches, rats and other disease-spreading pests.

* So-called biological controls -- such as introducing spiders to pray on cockroaches -- are far less effective than safe pesticide treatments and introduce their own set of potential health problems.

* Cockroaches are among the most prevalent child allergens and sources of asthma attacks, with 20 percent of all children being allergic to cockroaches. Without proper pest control, cockroach feces and decomposing cockroach bodies trigger severe allergy and asthma episodes in homes and schools.

Additional Sources:

Assessing Health Risks from Pesticides, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Logomasini, A., "State Legislatures Face Anti-Pesticide Bills," Environment & Climate News, August 1, 2004

Milloy, S., "Pesticides Not a Threat to Students," August 9, 2005

Milloy, S., "Unwarranted Warning," April 21, 2000

Taylor, J., "Pesticide bans put children at risk from roaches, rodents," Environment & Climate News, July 1, 2002