Pricey Harrison

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Protecting The Health of School Children

House Bill 1502, the School Children's Health Act, which I co-sponsored, passed the House unanimously on Wednesday. The bill, which is sponsored by Representatives Grier Martin, (D-Wake), Marian McLawhorn (D-Pitt), and Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland), would require state government to take action to protect the health of school-age children from environmental hazards on public school campuses. House Bill 1502 establishes guidelines and recommendations for the use of arsenic-treated wood, pesticides and elemental mercury in public schools. In addition, the legislation makes recommendations to address asthma-causing diesel exhaust and allergy-aggravating mold and mildew.

Because children's bodies are still developing, exposure to toxics can have serious impact on their long-term health. School-age children are particularly vulnerable to these toxins due to the large percentage of their time spent at school - between 30 and 50 percent of each day that school is in session. Diesel exhaust, mercury, pesticides, arsenic-treated wood and mold and mildew have been identified as substances having negative impact on the health of school children that can be eradicated both inexpensively and easily.

* Diesel exhaust contributes to childhood asthma and has been found to increase the risk of lung and heart disease.
* Mercury interferes with brain development and can lead to developmental problems such as impaired memory and learning disabilities.
* Pesticides, arsenic treated wood, and mold and mildew pose serious threats to children's health, and are commonly found in North Carolina's public schools

Many school districts in North Carolina and across the United States have already put such policies and practices into effect. For example, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policies have been adopted in several North Carolina school districts.

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