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AB 405 California Decides Whether to Ban Use of Experimental Pesticides in Schools

May 4, 2005 -- This week, the California Legislature tackles an important, though little-known, topic: the use of experimental pesticide products in schools. Currently, no definitive data exist on products designated "experimental." Because of this, school
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 safety advocates worry that children, teachers, and all school
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 employees will pay the price -- with their health. Thus, this legislation is seen as vital to protecting children from becoming human test subjects.

 “  We are extremely grateful for the immediate response from Assemblywoman Montanez’ office in authoring this legislation, which will protect children, teachers, staff and community members who live near school sites from exposure to what could be dangerous  
Assembly Bill 405 [Cindy Montanez, Democrat, 39th District] prevents the use of pesticides that have not had full chemical hazard testing from being used on school sites. Montanez's bill amends the state Education
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 Code so that school teachers and children are not exposed to experimental and/or insufficiently tested pesticides. AB 405 also prohibits using pesticide products where the registration has been cancelled, suspended, or marked to be phased out on school sites as well. AB 405 will protect California public K-12 children, teachers, school workers, and community members from products where the health effects are unknown.

"Children and teachers are not lab rats," said Robina Suwol, Executive Director of California Safe Schools, a sponsor of AB 405. "We are extremely grateful for the immediate response from Assemblywoman Montanez’ office in authoring this legislation, which will protect children, teachers, staff and community members who live near school sites from exposure to what could be dangerous chemicals. It's especially shocking that these experiments are allowed to continue given the recent scandal over the CHEERS study."

CHEERS, a pesticide industry study conducted under the auspices of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, proposed paying lower income families with infants in Dade County, Florida, $970.00; families also were to receive a bib, a video camera and a certificate of appreciation. In exchange, the families agreed to allow pesticides to be used in their homes and their children to be monitored for pesticide effects. The CHEERS study was halted due to public outcry and pressure from a number of US Senators.

California law currently allows pesticides that have not been fully evaluated to be used on school sites. Historically, pesticides with only conditional registrations or experimental use permits are sold and used for years without completing the data requirements necessary to give regulators a full chemical hazard profile. This significant flaw allows chemicals with incomplete hazard assessments to be used on school sites, creating harm for students and teachers.

Pesticides contain toxic substances, many of which have a detrimental effect on human health and the environment. These effects may be most serious for children because children are more susceptible for various reasons. For example, current threshold levels of pesticide exposure and heath studies are determined using the standard of an adult male of approximately 160 pounds; children clearly fall well below this standard, and as a result the effects may be more significant.

The vote is expected to take place Thursday, May 5.


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