Sacramento Gets It - Kids Aren't Lab Rats!

June 08, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News

Elected officials get slammed too often. Working out of public view, deciphering interests ranging from moms to manufacturers, they create the laws of our state. When they do something right, as the California
Assembly did this last session, they deserve credit.

For all the progressive bills that recently failed, Assembly Bill 405, a long-overdue clarification of school health laws, passed its first hurdle. Author Assemblymember Cindy Montanez (D., 39th District), stood up for the health of kids, teachers, and school workers taking on the powerful chemical lobby. AB 405 amends
the state Education Code to prevent teachers, students, and school workers from being exposed to experimental pesticides - products that may have been tested for their killing power, but not for human health effects.

Is it really legal to expose kids to untested toxins? You bet. And until AB 405 becomes law, it will stay that way. Currently, California allows pesticide products without full registration or complete data
requirements to be applied on school sites, which may expose school children, teachers, and other members of the public to unreasonable and unknown health risks.

The Montanez bill closes that loophole. Additionally, the bill prohibits the use of pesticide products on school sites for which registration has been canceled, suspended, or marked for phase out of use.

The dread we all feel about increasing numbers of cancer, asthma, learning disabilities, and birth defects has triggered a movement for proactive health measures. Because of their constantly developing physiology, chemical exposures may be especially damaging to children and adolescents.

Aside from disrupting the immune and reproductive systems, kids can be impacted neurologically— ironically harming their ability to learn in the institution they are sent to be educated.

Children may be even more vulnerable politically than they are biologically. Kids are the only interest group without representation in the halls of government. That's why California Safe Schools, a children's
environmental health coalition, sponsored AB 405 and works daily with the public and the office of Assemblywoman Montanez in advocating its passage. The fact that threshold levels of pesticide exposure and health studies are currently based solely on an adult male of approximately 160 pounds underscores that children are counting on adults to protect them.

The bill's endorsers include the California Medical Association, California State PTA, California Teachers Association, Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, Los Angeles Unified, California School Boards Association, Sierra Club, California League of Conservation Voters, and the Environmental Health and Environmental Justice Community.

While the recent Assembly victory of AB 405 is exciting, the battle's not over. Aside from Senate passage, the bill must be signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in order to become law. That's why every parent in California needs to write their representative today and tell them that kids are not lab rats.

To locate your local representative, please visit

Robina Suwol is founder and Executive Director of California Safe Schools.