Indianapolis physician John Ellis, M.D., understands how pesticide use in schools can endanger children. In 2007, the House of Delegates adopted his resolution asking the ISMA to work with state agencies to make sure schools were complying with Indiana Pest Control Policy Recommendations.
In October, Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the policy recommendations into law requiring schools to:
Restrict the use and storage of pesticides
Maintain records of applied pesticides
Establish a parent, guardian and staff registry and notification requirement
The law also prohibits schools from applying pesticides when students are present.
Find details on this website.
As chairman of ISMA’s School Health Committee, Dr. Ellis encourages physicians to advocate for young patients by discussing pesticide use with local school officials.
“This is really an opportunity for physicians to make a huge impact on their communities with little effort,” he said. “We know that pesticide use has been associated with asthma symptoms in children. But the amazing thing to me is that these chemicals can also change genes that can be passed on.”
Children are at higher risk of pesticide exposure because their bodies are still developing, according to Improving Kids’ Environment, a not-for-profit organization that works to reduce environmental threats to children’s health. Low-level exposure to the chemicals not only increases risk of respiratory illnesses in children but also presents risks of cancer and neurologic/developmental injury.
Currently, about 85 percent of Indiana school corporations are reported to have voluntarily adopted the Indiana Pest Control Policy Recommendations.
“I urge physicians to call their local school administrators and just inquire if they are aware of the new pesticide law and if they have a plan in place,” commented Dr. Ellis.
Read more about the efforts to reduce exposure to pests and pesticides.