School children at risk of pesticide poisoning
Three recent poisoning incidents in the San Joaquin Valley show that greater protections necessary
For immediate release: May 15, 2009
FRESNO, CA—On three reported occasions in the past seven months—two in the past three days—pesticides have drifted onto school children waiting at school bus stops in Madera and Fresno counties. Community members in the San Joaquin Valley are calling for buffer zones around “sensitive sites” such as schools, homes and school bus stops to protect children from the health dangers of drifting pesticides.
“California's pesticide illness data base reveals that incidents at school bus stops occur almost every year in California,” noted Anne Katten, Work Health and Safety Specialist at the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. “Two incidents occurring in the San Joaquin Valley in the past three days shows that we have a very real problem on our hands.”
Pesticides can cause both short-term and chronic adverse health effects, including stinging eyes, breathing difficulties, rashes, blisters, blindness, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea and even death. Possible chronic effects include cancer, birth defects, reproductive harm, neurological and developmental toxicity, and disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system. Pesticide exposure can also trigger asthma attacks.
Children are more susceptible to health effects from pesticides than adults because their brains and bodies are still developing. As a result, children can be more impacted from lower-level exposures than adults.
“Our children are overloaded by air pollution and toxic exposure in the valley, and local asthma rates are among the highest in the nation,” said Teresa DeAnda, President of the community group El Comité Para el Bienestar de Earlimart and concerned parent and grandparent. “The California Department of Pesticide Regulation and County Agriculture Commissioners must take immediate steps to protect children from the dangers of pesticides where they live and play by requiring buffer zones around homes, schools and school bus stops and imposing steep sanctions on applicators who put others in harm's way.”
The statewide coalition Californians for Pesticide Reform has over 185 public interest groups as members and has been pushing to establish pesticide Protection Zones around sensitive sites through its Safe Air for Everyone Campaign. For more information about Pesticide Protection Zones, please visit: http://pesticidereform.org/article.php?list=type&type=65.
Three Recent School Bus Stop Pesticide Drift Incidents:
May 14, 2009 – Caruthers, Fresno County
Three children from Caruthers Elementary School were poisoned as they waited at a school bus stop and a mixture of three pesticides drifted from a vineyard. The children reportedly experienced headaches and difficulty breathing, and were taken to the hospital.
May 13, 2009 – LaVina Elementary, Madera County
A tractor was spraying sulfur on a grape vineyard while kids were waiting for the school bus. Several children were treated by local Haz Mat crews.
October 21, 2008 – Sanger Unified, Fresno County
A School District bus carrying about 10 kindergarten students from Del Rey Elementary
School was sprayed with a fungicide from a spray rig. Two people were taken to the hospital: a student reported burning eyes and a mother who rushed to the scene experienced a burning throat.
For more information, contact:
Teresa DeAnda, El Comité Para el Bienestar de Earlimart, 661-304-4080
Anne Katten, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, 916-204-2876
Tracey Brieger, Californians for Pesticide Reform, 415-215-5473
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