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Pesticides and Schools

School PlaygroundWhat are the myths surrounding the safety of synthetic weed and bug killers? Are these chemicals as harmless as we are led to believe? How concerned should we be when our children's schools spray pesticides and herbicides on a regular basis?

Pesticides have their roots in World War II. At that time we learned that we can kill people, as well as bugs, with chemicals. With no knowledge about long-term health implications, particularly for children, we embraced the chemical era.

How Pesticides Work

Many pesticides work as nerve poisons. These include organophosphates, pyrethroids, and others. These nerve poisons destroy a key nervous system enzyme—an enzyme that turns off acetylcholine, one of the critical neurotransmitters in the human brain.

Studies have been done noting the impact of organophosphates on the brains of young children. One such study was published in December 2010.

The study compares two sets of children. One set was raised without regular spraying of pesticides. The other set was raised in a farming community where pesticides were routinely sprayed.

Participating children were asked to draw human figures. Note the difference, below—children raised in the foothills without regular pesticide use drew far more detailed pictures.

Pesticide Study Drawing - click to view full details of study

What the Labels Tell Us

On any pesticide label—even those found at the hardware store—you will see two sections: Active Ingredient(s) and Inert Ingredients.

Active ingredients are the primary chemicals that act as a poison to the weeds, insects, or fungal growth.

Inert ingredients are solvents, surfactants, and adjuvants (substances that enhance the body's immune response to an antigen). Inert is misleading. These chemicals help the poison work more effectively. Many of them are toxic and because of trade secrets are not required to be disclosed.

The following label is for one brand of bifenthrin, a popular insecticide. Note that inert ingredients make up 92 percent of the formula.

Pesticide Label Bifenthrin

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

Our safety standards currently operate under the foundational principle of toxicology which says the dose makes the poison, implying that small amounts of poison are safe.

However, we now understand that low levels of certain classes of chemicals are endocrine disrupters. This class of chemicals is more toxic when highly diluted—into parts per billion or trillion. Because the amount is so small, they attach to hormone receptors and disrupt a developing child's hormonal system.

So far there are 800 chemicals suspected to interfere with hormone receptors. Glyphosate is one them. This is one of the most commonly sprayed herbicides in the world and is the primary ingredient in the weed killer Roundup.

What Can You Do?

The good news is there are natural, biodegradable agents that specially target pests but are non-toxic to humans. Examples include diatomaceous earth, cedar oil, mint, orange peel, and much more. Below is an example of a natural product label. Note that 100 percent of the ingredients are disclosed and 100 percent are naturally derived.

Pesticides Natural Alternative

Since World War II we have been part of a giant global experiment. We truly have no idea how these chemicals will impact ourselves or our children. We can cross our fingers and hope for the best, or we can take action now and return to natural, affordable measures.

For further reading:

We are dealing with a vast lack of knowledge when it comes to the subject of chemicals. It's never too late, however, to educate and empower others to ensure a safer tomorrow for our children.


momsAWARE founder Andrea Fabry presented this material to her local school board.
See her six-minute presentation below.

Quotes

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

Dedication