LOS ANGELES, California — On Wednesday March 30th, the Los Angeles Unified School District celebrated its 12-year Anniversary of their groundbreaking Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy. The policy was created in collaboration with California Safe Schools (CSS) a celebrated Children’s Environmental Health and Environmental Justice Coalition founded in 1998 by Robina Suwol, following an incident when Suwol’s sons, ages six and nine, along with other elementary school students, were accidently sprayed with pesticides by a school gardener in a hazardous material suit as they entered school. Her youngest son Nicholas, six years old at the time, an asthmatic whose asthma had been under control, suffered a severe asthma attack. Nicholas fortunately recovered, and with no litigious motives, Suwol founded California Safe Schools and worked with the school district to create more protective protocol.
One year to the day that Nicholas became ill, LA Unified the 2nd largest school district in the United States, adopted an IPM policy that today has become a national and international model for school districts and communities. The policy embraces the Precautionary Principle & Right to Know, includes ongoing training for staff and a fifteen member oversight committee that meets monthly to ensure implementation.
On the 12th Anniversary, at the Clean Air Healthy, Communities Hearing, before a crowd that included local, state, & federal representatives, Suwol eloquently remarked, “Our 14th Amendment promises that everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law. California Safe Schools believes children and adults have a right to learn, work, and live in a healthy environment. We applaud Los Angeles Unified for collaborating with California Safe Schools. Together, our successful efforts have led to the protection of millions of individuals and the environment “
The preamble to the Los Angeles Unified Integrated Policy states:
"Pesticides pose risks to human health and the environment, with special risks to children. It is recognized that pesticides cause adverse health effects in humans such as cancer, neurological disruption, birth defects, genetic alteration, reproductive harm, immune system dysfunction, endocrine disruption and acute poisoning. Pests will be controlled to protect the health and safety of students and staff, maintain a productive learning environment and maintain the integrity of school buildings and grounds. Pesticides will not be used to control pests for aesthetic reasons alone. The safety and health of students, staff and the environment will be paramount."
Dr. Cathie Ann Lippman, a prominent physician, who has practiced Environmental and Preventive Medicine in Beverly Hills for decades and serves as the Medical Representative on the LA Unified IPM Committee added, “Undoubtedly, the LAUSD IPM philosophy and practice has saved students and staff from multiple illnesses that could have occurred two or three decades from now. Scientists increasingly are recognizing how many diseases, are a result of chemicals in the environment toxic for our bodies. By refusing to use such chemicals in the schools, LAUSD continues to set the standards for ethical and effective pest management.”
The success of the LA Unified IPM Policy led to California’s Healthy Schools Act 2000. On October 6, 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 405 (Montanez) sponsored by California Safe Schools. The bill bans experimental pesticides, whose health effects are unknown, from California k-12 public schools. As a result, more than six million California students, and hundreds of thousands of teachers and school employees are protected from conditional, experimental or phased out pesticides at California k-12 public schools.
“I feel very fortunate to serve on Los Angeles Unified School District's IPM Committee, said Tracey Bartley, the Sustainable Schoolyards Ombudsman and Parent Representative, “ LAUSD is a leader in Integrated Pest Management practices and the reduction of chemical use on our campuses. I am proud to be a part of a school district that makes health a priority and ensures the safety of our school sites. Congratulations LAUSD & California Safe Schools on your 12th year Anniversary”
For more information on California Safe Schools:
Phone: 818-785-5515 Website: http://www.calisafe.org
Copyright California Safe Schools 2011