Children's health

Irma Medellin's picture

Pesticides are an everyday part life in our town. Sometimes we can see or smell the drifting chemicals, sometimes they are invisible. But we know they are there — especially in the fall when fields are fumigated, and this time of year when new plants are sprayed.

So I wasn't surprised when health officials released a report last week showing that children in our part of California — the Central Valley — are most likely to be in schools near pesticide-sprayed fields. We've been telling our stories for years, and unfortunately policymakers haven't heard us. As a mom, I'm very much hoping that maybe now we will see some change.

Kristin Schafer's picture

This is very powerful data. A new, first-of-its-kind report from California's Department of Health (DPH) shows that health-harming agricultural pesticides are being sprayed close to schools across the state.

Not just a few pesticides, either — or a few schools. More than 500,000 California children in hundreds of schools spend their days within 1/4 mile of pesticide applications. Of these, more than 100,000 (mostly Latino) children in 226 schools attend classrooms near fields with the heaviest use of dangerous chemicals. We have a problem.

Kristin Schafer's picture

Each year we mark national Autism Awareness Month with an update on how many children officials say are now on the autism spectrum. We highlight the latest science linking prenatal pesticide exposure to increased risk. And we make an urgent pitch to shift from awareness to prevention.

Well, once again the numbers are up. CDC reports that 1 in 68 children are now on the autism spectrum, up from 1 in 88 in 2008 and 1 in 150 "way back" in 2002. And once again, new science links certain chemical exposures to derailed fetal brain development — with an ever clearer understanding of how the damage is done. The good news? When it comes to talking prevention, there's been real progress.

Medha Chandra's picture

A while ago I blogged about a new EPA rule banning a specific set of super-toxic rat poisons for retail sale to homeowners. The ban was put in place to protect children and pets from the dangers of these rodenticide products. The company that makes them, Reckitt Benckiser, challenged the rule in court.

Well, history repeats itself. When California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently restricted the retail sale of these same super-toxic rat poisons, Reckitt Benckiser, sued DPR as well. This means that while the legal petition winds its slow way through the judicial system, the toxic rodenticides will continue being sold in California.

Judy Hatcher's picture

Update: Be sure to see the new Cesar Chavez biopic, in theaters around the country now. Released in conjuction with Farmworker Awareness Week, it will inspire viewers to support better worker protections and pledge to support responsibly grown food. See the film, then take action —Viva La Causa!

Originally posted March 28, 2013.

As I cross Cesar Chavez Avenue on my way to work each morning, I'm greeted by murals with the visionary labor organizer's portrait. When I reach the PAN office, he smiles down at me from a poster hanging prominently in the hall.