Communities in Action

ME: Toxics Action Center Releases Safer School Grounds Report :
Continuing to work for safer Maine schools

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”, which raised awareness about the effects of pesticide use on our health and environment. Since then, more evidence has surfaced that human exposure to pesticides is linked to a disturbing number of health problems, including cancer and learning disabilities. Children are among the most vulnerable to pesticide exposures. Over the past two years, Toxics Action Center worked with a dozen communities in Maine to curb the use of pesticides locally, and we joined with community leaders to launch the Safe School Grounds Coalition with the goal of banning pesticides from public school grounds and playing fields statewide in Maine.

This December, we ramped up our efforts by releasing a new report, A Call for Safer School Grounds: A Survey of Pesticide Use on K-12 Public School Grounds in Maine. For the report, we surveyed 209 Maine public schools and found that more than half spray pesticides despite state policies aimed at reducing pesticide use.

Because of a lack of action at the state level, some towns have taken the matter into their own hands, including Scarborough, which adopted an Organic Pest Management Policy to restrict the use of toxic pesticides on town-owned land.

Mary Nelson, State Representative from Falmouth, joined our report release and stated, “I call on my colleagues in the Maine House and Senate to follow the lead of communities like Scarborough and limit the use of pesticides at schools and daycare centers in order to protect children’s health and promote safe schools.”

More than 100 teachers, school administrators and coaches have signed on to support our Safe School Grounds Campaign, pledging support for a statewide policy to ban pesticide spraying in Maine public school grounds.  Terri Eddy, who works at Scarborough High School, joined other speakers at the event. “This is an education issue. Schools should be safe and healthy environments where children can learn and grow,” said Eddy. “Children face enough challenges in the classroom to have to face chemicals toying with their health and behavior.”

To get involved in our Safe School Grounds Campaign, contact Tracie Konopinski, Toxics Action Center’s Maine Community Organizer, at 207-871-1810 or tracie@toxicsaction.org.