Pesticides near schools putting children at risk

FRESNO, Calif.

A report from the department of public health found some of the most dangerous chemicals are used near students.

Valley parents, community members and health advocates are demanding action to protect school children from agricultural pesticides.

A new report funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found some of the most dangerous chemicals are used near California campuses in fifteen counties. Including Fresno and Tulare, which topped the list for highest pesticide use.

Dr. Venise Curry with the Communities of New California Education Fund said, "There are a number of them that are considered carcinogens which means they help you develop cancer, but they're also neuro-toxic so we know there are a number of impacts from exposure."

The report states more than 140 highly hazardous pesticides are used close to schools - including fumigants - used to sterilize the soil before crops are planted.

Dr. Venise Curry says exposure to the fumigants are especially damaging to children's health and learning. "If it's an inhalant or they're breathing it, their lungs are still developing so that means their tissues are going to be vulnerable to anything that is potentially harmful."

The group is calling on lawmakers to support a policy for growers to transition from fumigants to safer alternatives, establish large "protection zones" around schools, and require farmers to notify campuses before applying hazardous pesticides. Steps, they say, would go a long way in ensuring students safety.

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