Wrongful Pesticide Use on OR School Grounds Worries Public-Health Advocates

Hillsboro, OR – The misuse of harmful pesticides on school grounds in Oregon is raising alarms about the impact on students. Comments from Dr. Randall Phelps, associated professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University, and state Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture recently completed an investigation into a suburban Portland school for the misuse of toxic pesticides on district grounds. Environment and public health advocates say it’s time to update Oregon’s school pest-management law to prevent future violations. Hillsboro School District was found to be in violation of the law over the course of several years as it applied pesticides in a “negligent and careless manner,” according to the state. The district also used Fumitoxin, a dangerous rodent-control pesticide that has resulted in the deaths of children who breathed in the toxic gas. Oregon-based pediatrician Dr. Randall Phelps says children are especially vulnerable to these types of chemicals.

“We need to be thinking carefully about potential exposures of children in the environment to toxins and we need to take some reasonable precautions to prevent exposure. If we’re going to be applying toxins to public spaces, people that use those public spaces need to have a say.”

The fines for the district and the designated Integrated Pest Management coordinator total nearly 20-thousand dollars. A spokesperson for Hillsboro says as a result of the state investigation, the district has initiated an internal review of its pest-management program to address the concerns.