Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pesticides in child care - not a pretty picture

We've all done our homework and gotten the pesticides out of our homes, yards and gardens, right? Many of us have even worked with our schools over the years to get them to switch to safer Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs. But what about child care centers?

A new report out this week from Toxic Free North Carolina, Avoiding Big Risks for Small Kids, takes a look at how child care centers are managing pests in our state – and reveals a less-than-heartening picture. Compared with public schools, who are rapidly adopting IPM in North Carolina, child care centers are lagging way behind.

_ Most of the child care centers we surveyed use old-fashioned, higher-risk practices like broadcast pesticide spraying inside the facilities. Even when the center contracted with professionals, the survey found both widespread overuse of pesticides, and a troubling lack of safety precautions like warning signs or safety information provided about the chemicals being used.

_ The survey also found very limited adoption of safer practices, such as IPM. The US EPA recommends IPM for schools, child care centers and other sensitive areas because it focuses on preventing pest problems and minimizing pesticide spraying. In contrast with NC public schools, child care centers have hardly begun to adopt this common-sense practice. Fewer than 24% of child care providers reported using practices that qualify as IPM – but those who did also reported fewer serious pest problems.

So what can parents & child care providers do about this? Check out the list of five questions that parents should ask their child care providers to find out what they’re doing. There's also a resource for child care providers on how to contract for safer pest management in their facilities.

We know well that kids and pesticides don't mix, but this report makes clear that North Carolina child care providers still need to hear that message. So let's get it out there!

Download the report, get the fact sheets and learn more at Toxic Free NC's website.

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