LANSING — Today, state Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced House Bill 5752 to prohibit schools or day care centers from applying pesticides to a playground, turf or athletic fields.

Currently, Michigan law requires schools to have an integrated pest management (IPM) program in place before applying any pesticides. Parents must also receive advance notice of such applications. “The current IPM requirement is not enough to protect children,” Rep. Irwin said. “It is too loosely defined, and it still allows the use of toxic chemicals in areas where our children play.”

Children are especially sensitive to pesticide exposure because their bodies are still developing, because they take in more pesticides relative to their body weight, and because their bodies are less able to detoxify environmental chemicals. In addition, pesticides can negatively affect children’s learning and long-term health, especially asthma.

According to a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, the most popular and widely used lawn chemical, 2,4-D, used on weeds such as dandelions, is a known endocrine disruptor. Of the 40 pesticides most commonly used in schools, 28 can cause cancer, 14 are linked to endocrine disruption, 26 can adversely affect reproduction, 26 are nervous system poisons and 13 can cause birth defects.

“Pesticides that can harm the brain, have been linked to cancer, or can exacerbate asthma have no place where children and adolescents play and exercise,” said Melissa Sargent, environmental health educator at an Ann Arbor-based ecology nonprofit. “We applaud Rep. Irwin for introducing this bill to prohibit pesticide use on fields and playgrounds at schools and daycares and encourage all of Michigan’s lawmakers to support this common-sense regulation. Industry professionals have proven that pesticides are not needed to create lush, beautiful, green lawns and playing fields with tough turf.”

“Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their children being exposed to harmful pesticides while at school,” Rep. Irwin said. “Children come into contact with the ground and other environmental elements much more frequently than adults, and it makes sense to use alternatives that don’t have the potential to harm our children.”