Agriculture Subcommittee Examines Hasty Pesticide Safety Changes

Jul 18, 2001

Hidden Senate amendment siphons school resources, adds confusion

July 18, 2001 – What amounted to an afterthought amendment added long after the passage of the Senate version of the Education Bill will require schools to divert attention and money to new regulations that are already covered by strict laws on the use of pesticides. Department Operations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte brought school district and pesticide experts together in a hearing to publicly examine the Senate's amendment, which changes to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, "FIFRA."

"The Senate's amendment would require schools to divert resources meant to educate our children to maintaining voluminous records and sending highly technical information to parents, teachers and staff each time the school finds it necessary to spray a bees nest in the school playground," said Subcommittee Chairman Goodlatte. "Since EPA takes into consideration the effects that pesticides would have on children and establishes the legal requirements for the pesticide's use on the label, what possible public health benefit is there to be derived from this legislation?"

According to American Mosquito Control Association entomologist George Wichterman, the arbitrary re-entry interval placed on pest control applications, such as mosquito control, will either require schools to shut down periodically during the week or, in the absence of these necessary public health pesticide applications, put our children's health in jeopardy through the avoidable spread of diseases such as West Nile Virus.

Five days after Senate passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001, an amendment was tucked into the bill that would require local educational agencies and schools to implement pest management plans and to provide parents, guardians, and staff members with notice of the use of pesticides in schools.

Subcommittee Chairman Goodlatte noted that the amendment had never been introduced in either House or Senate, or the subject of any congressional hearing. It was never reviewed by either the EPA or Department of Education, and had not been submitted to the National Association of School Boards or the American Association of School Administrators for their comments.

Major changes made by the Senate amendment:

· Requires local educational agencies to contract with a certified pesticide applicator to develop and implement a school pest management program in compliance with guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency. Each plan, prior to implementation must first be approved by the EPA;

· Requires universal notification 3 times per year (at the beginning of the school year, mid-year, and once for summer session) of school pesticide use;

· Requires schools maintain health and toxicity related records on each pesticide, including how and when it is to be used, which shall be made available on request to parents, guardians, staff members, and other interested parties;

· Requires schools to establish and maintain a registry of parents, guardians and staff members who shall be notified not less than 24 hours in advance of any pesticide application on school property;

· Requires schools to provide to people on the registry all information related to acute and chronic effects, material safety data sheets, and all information prepared by the Administrator of the EPA regarding use or registration of any pesticide used on school property;

· Requires schools to post 4" by 5" signs 24 hours in advance of any pesticide application.

· Mandates a minimum 24 hour reentry period following the application of any pesticide, regardless of the requirements approved by the EPA during the FIFRA registration process.

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