HIGHTOWER: Poisoning Children with Pesticide

Children can be pests sometimes, but no one would advocate dousing them with pesticides.

Yet, in communities all across the country, school officials are doing exactly that--not by dousing the children directly, but by blithely spreading and spraying toxic chemicals all around the school yard and everywhere else children spend their school days. Most of this dousing is done with nerve-agent pesticides meant to rid the schools of pesky critters, but children are critters, too, and their young bodies are especially vulnerable even to minute amounts of these poisons.

Pesticides don't "disappear" once applied. They persist for weeks and even years after a single application, remaining in the soil, the indoor air, in carpets, on the children's desks and other surfaces. Children breath the vapors or the dust every day, absorb residues through their skin, and can ingest pesticides just by putting their fingers in their mouths. This is not theory--school children are getting seriously sick, and even dying from the dousing they're getting.

Matthew Metelko and his classmates at Jurupa Hills Elementary in California can tell you about it. To eradicate flies, school administrators installed automatic pesticide dispensers throughout the school. Suddenly, previously healthy children were ill--Matthew got blisters on his skin that came in contact with classroom surfaces, and he developed a "smokers cough," diarrhea, stomach pains, and shortness of breath. His is just one case out of hundreds reported each year of children literally being poisoned by pesticides at school. Administrators, merely wanting to get rid of the bugs, are mostly unaware of the danger and uninformed about safe, non-toxic alternatives, and parents simply don't know about the dousings . . . until their children get sick.

This is Jim Hightower saying . . . To stop pesticide use in your school system, call the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides: 541-344-5044.

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