DeForest parents protest plan to use pesticides at schools - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

DeForest parents protest plan to use pesticides at schools

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DEFOREST (WKOW) -- A group of parents is protesting the DeForest School District's plan to widely apply pesticides this weekend to school grounds, claiming there are safer alternatives.

In a posting on the district's web site, officials say the plan has been approved by the state department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection, and complies with school pesticide use laws. They also say some children's allergies could worsen as a result of weed growth on school property.

Parent Amie Mink says she's concerned her fourth and seventh grade daughters, and other school children, will be exposed to harmful chemicals as a result of the application. Mink says even though laws require treated grass to be off limits for three days after pesticide application, chemical absorption can take place for a month or longer after application. She says many young children roll in the grass, and have hand to mouth contact in other ways.

UW Health family physician Dr. Claire Gervais says there are health concerns connected to exposure. "It's a cumulative issue," Gervais tells 27 News.

"Cumulative exposure to herbicides does put children at risk for certain childhood cancers," Gervais says.

Gervais concedes the medical literature is largely lacking on the health impacts of pesticide use, but says the dearth of information is due in part to the Environmental Protection Agency's unwillingness to investigate pesticide combinations.
Mink's online petition calling for a stop to the planned pesticide application has more than two dozen signatures.

In the web site statement, officials say weather conditions have promoted weed growth, and an application before the students' absence in the summer is needed before weeds take further hold.

Officials at other area school districts point to policies of some pesticide application. Officials at both the Middleton-Cross Plains, and Waunakee school districts say their past, pesticide applications have been more targeted. A three-year pilot project at a Waunakee elementary school involves the use of composting instead of pesticides in the school's entrance area.

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