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October 1999
Earth Alert #7

Take Personal and Political action to reach the goals of Earth Day.

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The problem of pesticide use has been dramatically demonstrated this fall in New York City. An outbreak of West Nile virus, which is carried from birds to mosquitoes to humans, has left at least 31 ill and 5 dead. To deal with the problem, city officials have ordered widespread spraying of Malathion. Unfortunately, Malathion not only kills the mosquitoes, it also kills beneficial organisms like Monarch butterflies, birds and fish. And human health problems from the use of Malathion have been documented in Georgia, Texas, California and Florida.

With their unique diet and behavior patterns, children are at the greatest risk for pesticide exposure and illness. Pound for pound, children eat more food and drink more water than adults. Their immature physiological mechanisms cannot protect them from toxic chemicals. Children spend more time outdoors where pesticides are more likely to be in use.

A 1993 report by the National Academy of Sciences stated that the federal analysis of pesticide risks was inadequate because it did not take into account children's more vulnerable systems, cumulative exposure, or synergism –- when small amounts of different pesticides interact and enhance their toxicity. Current laws do not offer adequate protection for children.


Personal Action

Use Alternatives At Home

About 10 percent of pesticide use is within private homes and gardens. In fact, a National Cancer Institute study found that in homes where pesticides were used once a week, children's risk of leukemia increased 400 percent. The best way to avoid pesticides at home is taking preventative measures before pests become a problem - like keeping food and waste stored properly. When pests do become a problem, there are non-toxic and least-toxic alternatives for controlling just about every household pest:

• Aphids: Rub leaves gently between thumb and forefinger.; spray with non-detergent soap (like Murphy's Oil soap) and water mix.

• Mealy bugs: Spraying plant with a strong stream of water; spray with non-detergent soap and water with a drop of alcohol mix.

• Scales (small, wingless, scale-covered bugs): Control by washing with non-detergent soap and water and while wet, rub off scales with a cloth.

• Spider Mites: Use a water misting spray to keep up the humidity level of the plant; hose off plant and wash away the web and mites; wash with non-detergent soap and water.

For a full list of pesticide alternatives you can use in your home, contact Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse Pesticides at 202-543-5450 or ncamp@ncamp.org.

Support The School Environment Protection Act

On October 13, Senator Robert Torricelli (NJ) and Senator Patty Murray (WA) are scheduled to introduce their cosponsored bill called the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA) into the U.S. Senate. If passed into law, SEPA would create incentives for schools to use pest management practices that do not rely on toxic pesticides. The legislation clearly defines preventative and least toxic pest management strategies for schools. Under the bill, if toxic pesticides are used in a school, parents, guardians, and staff will receive advanced notice of use and information on product hazards. Write to your Senators asking them to support SEPA and protect children from poisons at school.


Senator _________

Hart Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator ______,

Communities across the country are acting in increasing numbers to protect children from pesticides in their communities and at their schools, yet there are no national protections or standards for children. To correct this situation and ensure national leadership in protecting children from a daily dose of toxic chemicals in their classrooms, playgrounds and ballfields, I am writing to ask you to support the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA).

SEPA is cosponsored by Senators Torricelli and Murray and will create incentives for schools to use pest management practices that do not rely on toxic pesticides. The legislation clearly defines preventative and least toxic pest management strategies in schools. Under the bill, if toxic pesticides are used, parents, guardians, and staff will be given advanced notice and information on possible hazards.

This national effort has grown out of incredible success at the local and state level in adopting policies that protect children from pesticides that may be used at school. However, the majority of school children remain unprotected. The time is right for national protection for our children. Your support of the bill is vital.




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©1999 Earth Day 2000