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The Associated Press has published a startling report about brain injury and death of schoolchildren due to pesticide spraying near schools.

The report focuses on California, one of eight states that require a buffer zone around schools to protect children from “pesticide drift”. There there were 590 pesticide-related illnesses at schools from 1996 to 2005, according to state records obtained by the AP.

Although the EPA has many resources about pesticide spray issues there are no federal regulations governing spraying near schools.

Remedies for victims are largely ineffective because of the difficulty of proving that a particular sprayer was responsible for an injury or illness. Nevertheless, farmers and others in the agriculture industry are being educated about pesticide application liability.

Alternatives to pesticides need to be explored. This area is ripe for legislation at the state and local level. Parents, school organizations, and local governments need to examine the hazards present near schools and playgrounds, enlist expertise in pesticide use reduction, and fight for buffer zones to protect children, who are the ones most often exposed to these poisons.

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