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STATEMENT OF SENATOR EDWARD M. KENNEDY ON THE
SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT AMENDMENT TO SEPA


November 27, 2001

It's an honor to be here today with my colleagues Senator Torricelli,
Senator Harkin, Senator Reid, and Senator Boxer, and I commend them for their leadership in protecting students from pesticides at their schools. I also commend Congressman Rob Andrews for his leadership on the School Environment Protection Act.

In recent weeks, the nation has been gripped by the fear of biological and chemical attack. But every day in schools across the nation, children are exposed to dangerous pesticides that can make them sick.

We know that in too many school districts across the country, untrained people are making critical decisions day in and day out about the use of pesticides in school buildings and on school grounds.

We know that children may be especially sensitive to even low levels of dangerous substances. We need to take special precautions to protect the development of their immune systems and their nervous systems. EPA has evidence that a large number of pesticides are carcinogenic in animal studies. Federal law now permits protections for farmers from re-entering their fields too soon after pesticide use, but no such protections are available in the case of schools.

We know from sad and harsh experience the dangerous consequences for children from exposure to lead in paint. We shouldn't have to learn these lessons again for the exposure of children to dangerous
pesticides.

We cannot allow schools to be chemical death traps for our children. If their schools make them sick, no measure of education reform will improve their learning.

Our proposal is a needed step to protect students from the harmful effects of pesticides in and around their school buildings. Children attend school at least 180 days a year. Effective precautions are
essential in order to reduce their exposure to environmental chemicals and disease.

Dealing with the harmful impact of pesticides on students and schools should be part of overall education reform. This important measure will provide needed protection by limiting the use of toxic pesticides and harmful chemicals in and around schools.

Parents support the amendment because they want to know their children are safe. Teachers support it because they want to work under safe conditions, and they know that students learn more effectively when they are safe and healthy.

It is long past time for Congress to take this important step to protect schools and classrooms from the dangerous use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

Signed by Senator Ed Kennedy

 

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