NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

School Environmental Protection Act Harms Schools

June 5, 2000

As part of the School Environmental Protection Act, the Senate included a provision requiring schools to provide 72 hours notice to parents prior to application of pesticides in their children's schools.

Critics caution that this is "feel good" legislation which -- although it seems fairly harmless -- actually drives up costs and creates problems of its own. For example, when Maryland enacted similar legislation in 1998, it added tens of thousands of dollars in expenses to the budgets of individual school systems -- without appropriating any money to pay for it.

Here are some of the reasons experts, including entomologists, think the Senate acted in haste without proper reflection.

  • The ingredients used in school pesticides are routinely purchased by householders every day.
  • Pesticides already undergo tremendous scrutiny, with at least 120 tests -- several of which are specifically designed to spot potential toxicity among youngsters.
  • The bugs themselves pose the greater risk -- with significant numbers of deaths arising each year from contact with bees, hornets and wasps; ticks, fire ants and mosquitoes.
  • Roaches are considered one of the top two causes of childhood asthma -- which, in turn, is the most common cause of hospitalization and school absences among children.

Critics assert that it is necessary to deal with bugs fast when they appear -- not engage in a delay of three days or more while encouraging public debate.

Source: Michael Fumento (Hudson Institute), "The Senate's Pests: Bill to Shield Kids Ignores Problem of Vermin and Bugs," Investor's Business Daily, June 5, 2000.


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