Skip to content

    Children's Health

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Toxic Turf

    Are pesticides polluting our kids' schoolyards?

    WebMD Feature

    March 6, 2000 (Berkeley, Calif.) -- With the coming of spring, children are venturing outdoors again -- for soccer games, track and field events, and lunches on the schoolyard grass. But according to a trio of U.S. senators, those playing fields and lawns may not be good places for kids. Each year schools spray any number of different herbicides and pesticides on their grounds to control pests of all kinds, from yellow jackets to ants. But no one is paying enough attention to the harmful effects that such chemicals may have on the nation's schoolchildren, says Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., one of the concerned legislators.

    Like public areas anywhere, classrooms and playgrounds are inviting places for pests and annoyances: weeds, fleas, mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, ants, wasps, mold and mildew, bacteria, rodents, and more. So, not surprisingly, schools use a variety of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, rodent baits, disinfectants, wood preservatives, soil sterilants, and other chemicals to control these perceived threats. Although some schools have set their own standards, there is currently no overarching authority regulating what substances are used around school children, and this realization has caused mounting concern among parents, environmentalists, and government officials.

    Recommended Related to Children

    Playtime for Children With Physical Disabilities

    Playing is crucial to healthy development and for building strong parent-child bonds. It's equally important if your child has a physical disability, such as a hearing impairment, vision difficulties or blindness, muscular dystrophy, and so on. WebMD consulted child life specialists and experts to help you find guidance about playing with your physically disabled child. Here you’ll find their tips on play and age-specific suggestions for physically disabled children, from newborns to age 6.

    Read the Playtime for Children With Physical Disabilities article > >

    Lieberman is a sponsor of a U.S. Senate bill (H.R. 3275) to make school districts accountable for the pesticides and herbicides they use in and around schools. Workplaces have far stricter standards, he says, than do our schools, and he is also urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to step up surveys of what's used in and around the places where children spend most of their days.

    According to a report released just over a month ago by the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO), "Use, Effects, and Alternatives to Pesticides in Schools," most states have no procedures for tracking or regulating pest-control procedures in schools (see link to GAO report). And in the past few years there have been sufficient numbers of children exposed to pesticides on school grounds to warrant concern. The GAO has tracked more than 2,000 instances of pesticide exposure in schools during a three-year period -- including more than a dozen cases that required hospitalization.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    child with red rash on cheeks
    What’s that rash?
    plate of fruit and veggies
    How healthy is your child’s diet?
     
    smiling baby
    Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
    Middle school band practice
    Understanding your child’s changing body.
     

    worried kid
    fitArticle
    jennifer aniston
    Slideshow
     
    Measles virus
    Article
    sick child
    Slideshow
     

    babyapp
    New
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow
     
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
    Child Coughing or Sneezing into Elbow
    Article