SEATTLE - Groups of farm workers, doctors and mothers have banded
together to ask the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do more to
protect children from pesticides. On Wednesday, they filed a petition,
citing examples of how dangerous chemicals that had been sprayed on
fields and orchards drifted into other areas, affecting schools and
Janette Brimmer, attorney with Earthjustice, says most
states don't do a very good job of tracking or reporting these risks,
while pesticide safety standards are the EPA's responsibility.
"The goal of this petition is to get EPA to do what it's supposed to
have been doing all along - analyze all the ways that children could be
exposed to pesticides, including drift, and then take some protective
Brimmer adds, some of the evidence in the case is from Washington.
"There are studies from the Wenatchee area showing pesticides that are
just hanging around in the air where kids are living, playing, going to
school - are at levels that they could be harmful; certainly at higher
levels than maybe other kids are exposed to."
Earthjustice is asking the agency to set safety standards and,
in the meantime, to immediately adopt buffer zones to prevent spraying
around schools, parks, child care centers and homes.
Critics argue states have their own standards and enforcement for
pesticide use and that the EPA already is arguing other pesticide cases
in court, which may resolve some of the issues.
The petition was filed on behalf of these groups: California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, the Pesticide Action Network, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Moms Rising, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and SeaMar Community Health Center.