AFT Resolution

PROTECT STAFF AND STUDENTS FROM THE HEALTH RISKS OF AGRICULTURAL PESTICIDES

WHEREAS, American Federation of Teachers members and the students and families we serve deserve healthy living and working environments that are free of chemicals of public health concern; and

WHEREAS, our communities who work and live near conventional agriculture are disproportionately affected by pesticide drift, which contaminates our water, soil, air, food and bodies; and

WHEREAS, those impacted by pesticide drift are disproportionately Hispanic/Latino and are already subject to social, economic and political discrimination; and

WHEREAS, children are the most vulnerable to the health harms of pesticide exposure because they eat, drink and breathe more per unit of body weight and are in a period of development when they are least able to detoxify contaminants; and

WHEREAS, in the 15 California counties assessed by the 2014 California Department of Public Health report titled Agricultural Pesticide Use Near Public Schools in California, 226 schools attended by more than 118,000 students were within the top 25 percent of schools with pesticide use nearby;[1] and

WHEREAS, the above report found that an estimated 538,912 pounds of pesticides of public health concern were applied within a quarter-mile of public schools in the 15 counties studied in 2010; and

WHEREAS, the above report also found that out of the top 10 pesticides applied within a quarter-mile of those schools, six were toxic air contaminants, four were carcinogens, three were reproductive/developmental toxins and two were cholinesterase inhibitors; and

WHEREAS, air monitors near schools throughout the state have measured fumigant pesticides such as Telone (1,3-dichloropropene) at levels above the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s recommended regulatory target for cancer risk,[2] and air monitoring for the neurodevelopmental toxicant chlorpyrifos has resulted in risk estimates of concern for children;[3] and

WHEREAS, agricultural chemicals that negatively impact health, learning and behavior contribute to increased costs for underfunded and understaffed schools, particularly special education programs; and

WHEREAS, consumers are also affected by pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables, and by the environmental degradation and climate change to which conventional agriculture contributes:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers supports regulatory and legislative actions to reduce exposures to hazardous agricultural chemicals, with particular emphasis on children, women of childbearing age and agricultural workers; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT contends that site-specific pesticide application information should be made available to the general public, thus removing perceptions of liabilities for school staff; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will facilitate the provision of resources to members in affected communities on risks and harms of pesticide exposure and how and why to report possible pesticide drift incidents; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT supports legislation to create “zones of innovation” around schools in order to explore sustainable alternatives to chemical agriculture, with funding coming from a tax on hazardous agricultural chemicals similar to that levied on tobacco products; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT supports a phase-out of fumigant pesticides and all pesticides in the organophosphate family, including a total ban on the neurodevelopmental toxin chlorpyrifos and a renewed ban on atrazine; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT believes the re-envisioning of food production to reduce chemical inputs and improve soil health aligns with the long-term goal of improved soil, air and water quality; decreased pesticide residues on foods; and decreased global climate change—with resulting reduction in costs for healthcare and education, and improved health and learning for our children and for future generations.


[1] California Environmental Health Tracking Program, Agricultural Pesticide Use Near Public Schools in California, 2014, http://www.ehib.org/cehtp/cehtp.org/projects/ehss01/pesticides_and_schoo....

[2] California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Methyl Bromide, 1,3-Dichloropropene, and Chloropicrin Air Monitoring Results for 2010-2016, 2017, http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/emon/airinit/air_monitoring_results_2010-201....

[3] United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Chlorpyrifos: Revised Human Health Risk Assessment for Registration Review,” 2016, https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0653-0454.

 

(2018)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.