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Healthy Days for Children

Children 0-5 are sensitive to pesticide exposure - so notification of parents, and integrated pest management approaches are important

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If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. It it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

E.B. White, writer (1899-1985)
Pesticides and children are a dangerous mixture.

Pests like to congregate and grow where food and soiled items accumulate and where better than in places frequented by lots of children -- day care centers.

Pesticide applications have been a regular part of many, if not most day care centers for decades. But that might be changing as we learn more about integrated pest management that does not use chemical pesticides...and with state legislation that requires better communication and knowledge about pesticide alternatives for day care facilities.

If the proposed (2006) state legislation passes, private licensed day care centers will be required to notify parents about pesticide applications and to post notices in areas treated with pesticides.

The bill also would provide all day care providers with information and trainings on least-toxic Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques to help them create a safer environment in which to care for our most vulnerable population.

“Children ages zero to five are particularly sensitive to the potentially harmful effects of pesticide exposure,” said Rachel Gibson, Staff Attorney for Environment California—the sponsor of the bill. “The more parents know about the pest control practices of their child’s day care, the more they can protect their kids from unnecessary pesticide exposure. Likewise, the more child care providers know about safer pest control practices, the more likely they are to use them and the safer children under their care will be.”

83% of children of working parents regularly spend time in non-parental care, averaging 35 hours per week. In a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study on pesticide exposure, levels of pesticides found in dust were significantly higher in day care settings than in residential homes.

Children’s exposure to pesticides during critical stages of development may have permanent, irreversible effects. One recent California study found that children exposed to any pesticide in their first year of life were more than twice as likely to suffer from persistent asthma before the age of five. Another study found that the risk of childhood leukemia increased more than six times when garden pesticides were used at least once per month.

Environment California worked to help pass the Healthy Schools Act of 2000, which requires public schools to notify parents about pesticide applications and to post notices in areas treated with pesticides, in addition to providing schools with training on IPM. Under existing law, private child care facilities are exempt.

Healthy toys and bottles for children require careful plastic materials selection

The Stop Toxic Toys bill, which bans two toxic chemicals—phthalates and bisphenol-A—from children’s toys and feeding products, was signed into law by Mayor Gavin Newsom on Friday, June 16. The law takes effect on December 1, 2006.

Phthalates (pronounced thay-lates), often used in soft PVC plastic children’s toys, have been linked to reproductive birth defects, early onset of puberty, asthma, and reduced testosterone in boys. San Francisco is the first city in the United States to ban these chemicals in children’s products. The European Union and at least twelve countries have passed bans or restrictions on the use of phthalates in products for small children.

Bisphenol-A, a known hormone disruptor, is a common ingredient in hard plastic baby bottles and has been shown to leach out of the plastic, especially in older bottles. Even at very low doses it has been linked to obesity, early onset of puberty, behavioral problems, reduced sperm production, increased cancer cell growth, and impaired immune function. San Francisco is the first jurisdiction in the world to ban bisphenol-A in children’s products.

“Many parents would be shocked to learn that the plastic baby bottle they’re giving their child could damage their health. When you look at the science behind these chemicals, there is no question that they ought to be banned from baby products,” said Supervisor Fiona Ma, the author of the San Francisco bill.

Source: Environment California

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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