by | January 31, 2010 | Uncategorized

Cancer-linked pesticides used in schools – new survey

Children may be exposed to at least four potentially cancer causing
pesticides that are being used in UK schools, according to the findings of
a new survey released by the HEAL and PAN.

Children may be exposed to at least four potentially cancer causing
pesticides that are being used in UK schools, according to the findings of
a new survey released on 14 January 2010 by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Pesticides Action Network (PAN).

The snapshot of English, Welsh and Scottish school authorities also
revealed that 7 of the pesticides used in schools may have other serious
negative health impacts.

The survey also showed that 47% of local authorities who responded would
like schools to go pesticide free. Pesticides may play a role in several
types of cancer – those affecting children including acute lymphocytic
Leukaemia, brain cancer and others, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast
cancer, prostate cancer and testicular cancer – all have been rising in
incidence over more than three decades.

The Government is about to launch a consultation on its National Plans for
pesticide use. This survey shows that these plans must include a ban on
hazardous pesticide use in schools.

The HEAL survey of 206 local authorities revealed:

– The pesticides being used include Dichlobenil – identified as possible
cancer causing carcinogen; Oxadiazon classified as possible carcinogen and
toxic to development; Sulfosulfuron, classified as likely to be
carcinogenic, and the possible carcinogen mecoprop;

– A third of respondents said they could not give details of pesticides
used in their schools;

– Only a third of schools and pupils were warned
when pesticides were being used in schools or nearby by farmers or

– More than half of the respondents to the survey wanted to know more about
pesticide residues in school food; and

– 36% wanted their food tested for residues.


Further information

Full survey results will be made available here

Removing the risk of cancer to school-aged children, who are uniquely
vulnerable while their organs are growing, must be a high priority. Some
suggested alternatives could be costly but one survey respondent proposes
how this could be done:
“….. With budgets as they are seems as good an alternative as there is
along with schools learning to “live with their weeds” a bit.“
In North America, many schools are already pesticide free. In the UK, the
Food For Life programme and Garden Organic Schools work has resulted in
hundreds of schools reducing pesticide exposure for their pupils.

HEAL is proposing that Local authorities protect children by implementing a
ban on pesticide spraying in schools and school grounds in 2010, and that
the UK government’s pesticide National Action Plans – due for public
consultation in January, include:

– Setting an early date for the phase out of the use of all pesticides in
school grounds and playing fields as part of the UK National Action Plan on
pesticide use.

– Requiring local authorities and independent school bodies to collate
information on pesticide use in schools and on areas used regularly by
schools, such as parks and sports utilities;

– Providing resources for authorities to use alternatives to pesticides.

HEAL and PAN also recommend that the UK Government support the phase out of all potentially carcinogenic and other hazardous pesticides (at EU level)
by 2012 and that school authorities be given the budgets and advice to
access pesticide free, organic food options where available.

The survey also highlights the need for more action to protect children
from the effect of biocides, such as rat and cockroach poisons, since
hazardous biocides were being used in schools (Bromadiolone is classified
as extremely hazardous, and Aluminium Phosphide as moderately toxic.). The
current revision of the EU Biocides Law needs to be strengthened to protect
health, monitor use, and ensure effective information for the public.

Vicki Hird, HEAL Sick of Pesticides Campaigner says,

“This is a hidden menace – carcinogens may be used where children play and
learn, as this survey reveals. But it is an avoidable menace – so here’s
the New Year’s resolution for local authorities – pesticide free schools.
And the UK government must move quickly to eliminate the possible
carcinogens from schools and help local authorities go pesticide free in
their buildings grounds and in the food they serve to children. ”

Nick Mole of Pesticides Action Networks says,

“New legislation requires European Member States to reduce or eliminate the
use of pesticides in areas frequented by vulnerable groups such as
children. This should be a priority for the UK Government. It does not need
to be expensive or difficult but would help to reduce children’s exposure
to toxic chemicals.”

Vicki Hird Sick of Pesticides Campaign 07903478249 .
PAN contact Nick Mole 07906892648.
HEAL media contact: Diana Smith 0033633042943

Health and Environment Alliance

– For HEAL`s Shools and Pesticides Briefing click here

Cancer Prevention & Education Society

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