VPIRG urges schools to reduce pesticide use

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(Host) The Vermont Public Interest Research Group has released a study on the use of pesticides at school across the state. According to VPIRG, 70% of schools in the survey use chemicals to control pest problems, such as ants in the school buildings or weeds on the athletic fields.

VPIRG’s environmental health advocate Suzanne Miller says the use of pesticides can lead to health risks in children:

(Miller) “Some of the short-term symptoms that may exhibited may be like flu-like symptoms, or cold-like symptoms. But what really could happen is that children could develop learning disabilities, or an inability to focus, which is very problematic in the educational setting.”

(Host) The Vermont Department of Education supported the study. Andy Snyder is the department’s intergovernmental affairs coordinator. He says the education department is concerned about the issue, but that pesticide use may not surface as a top priority for school officials:

(Snyder) “So it’s not to take any of lightly. But to put in perspective is something that’s important to do. And no question, the plate is full for the amount of work that is on all school administrators at this point.”

(Host) Snyder says that the department will review the results of the pesticide survey with school administrators. VPIRG officials say they hope schools will rely on prevention and non-chemical pest control to reduce the use of pesticides in schools.

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