By Marcia Anderson
On any normal day, children and child care providers may be potentially exposed to pesticides from indoor and/or outdoor pesticide applications in the child care setting. As a member of the Region 2 EPA Pesticides Program, I took part in a study conducted in one New York City borough to evaluate the manner, type and frequency of pesticides being applied in child care centers (CCCs) in order to improve pest management practices and reduce childhood exposure.
We found that 80% of the CCCs studied, applied pesticides on a scheduled basis. This high frequency of applications show a strong dependence on pesticides being applied as a deterent, or preventative. Since many children spend a large portion of their day at child care facilities it is clear that reducing their exposures in these facilities would greatly reduce all of the children’s cumulative potential exposure to pesticides.
In addition, we found that 58% of child care centers relied on the spraying of pesticides by pest control companies to combat pests. Sprayed chemicals may become airborne and settle on toys, desks, counters, shades and walls. The children and staff may touch contaminated surfaces and unknowingly expose themselves to invisible residues that can remain for days. This means that over half of all the children in the study were at a heightened risk of exposure because pesticide sprays volatilize and become airborne, leading to inhalation exposure, then they settle down on surfaces, leading to additional risk of dermal exposure. When children put toys in their mouths that spray has settled on, or put their fingers in their mouths, the children are at risk for ingestion exposure.
In a study conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation it was found that the heaviest applications of registered pesticides in all of New York State, including the upstate agricultural region, occurred in the boroughs of NYC. More