On Monday, June 17, Purnell Head of School Anne M. Glass testified in support of New Jersey State Bill, S 1810, to ban the use of a dangerous pesticide Chlorpyrifos, which has been shown to cause learning and attention disabilities when exposed to babies in utero and early childhood.
Ms. Glass was invited by Maureen Swanson, LDA's Healthy Children Protection Director to add her voice by the Public Policy Initiative of the Learning Disabilities Association of America and the Friends of the Earth advocacy group.
Ms. Glass addressed the State Senate Committee on Environment and Energy, Chaired by State Senator Bob Smith at the State House in Trenton.
Among her remarks, Ms. Glass highlighted her standing as the Head of School at Purnell School which specializes in the support of high school students with learning challenges, as a learning specialist and educational advisor for 20 years, and as an adjunct instructor in Special Education at Hunter College CUNY and at Teachers College Columbia University. Ms. Glass serves on committees of the Learning Disabilities Association of America, including the Neuro-Developmental Health Committee and the Education Committee.
Glass sited Dozens of scientific studies show that exposure to a pesticide known as chlorpyrifos, especially during critical windows of vulnerability such as pregnancy, can harm the developing brains of infants and children. This pesticide is heavily sprayed on fruits and vegetables such as apples, strawberries and oranges. Fetal and childhood exposures to chlorpyrifos, even at low levels, are linked to lasting problems with learning, behavior and attention.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's own scientists found that, in children 1 to 2 years of age, exposure to chlorpyrifos on food is 140 times higher than what the agency deems acceptable. The scientists recommended a ban on this dangerous pesticide. But in March 2017, the Trump administration announced EPA will not prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops. That decision has been legally challenged in court, and LDA of America is a party in the litigation.
Six states this year have introduced bills to ban the use of chlorpyrifos. This spring, New York legislators overwhelmingly passed a ban and sent it to the Governor's desk for signature. California has announced it will regulate to end use of chlorpyrifos. In Connecticut and New Jersey, LDA leaders are providing written and oral testimony to convey LDA concerns with this pesticide to state legislators. There will be additional opportunities in the coming months for more LDA affiliates and members to get involved in helping to protect children from this terrible pesticide.
In state and federal efforts to prevent the use of toxic chemicals, LDA is frequently the only organization raising the voices and concerns of people affected by learning and developmental disabilities. LDA leaders across the country are working to make a difference, and ensure that all children are able to reach their full potential, safe from chemicals and pollutants that can disrupt brain development.
Decades of scientific research show that chlorpyrifos, even at low levels, and especially during fetal developmental and early childhood, can impair brain development and is linked to lasting problems with learning, attention, and behavior.
In general, children may be more sensitive to pesticides than adults. One reason for this is that their bodies may break down pesticides differently. Children are also more likely to be exposed to pesticides when playing and may put their hands in their mouths more often than adults. Children may also be more sensitive to exposures because they have more surface area of skin for their body size than adults.
Researchers studied the blood of women who were exposed to chlorpyrifos and the blood of their children from birth for three years. Children who had chlorpyrifos in their blood had more developmental delays and disorders than children who did not have chlorpyrifos in their blood. Exposed children also had more attention deficit disorders and hyperactivity disorders.
The results of scientific studies are overwhelmingly. They find that prenatal and early childhood exposure to chlorpyrifos, even at low levels, disrupts children's brain development and can result in loss of IQ, problems with behavior and attention, and learning and developmental disabilities.
Multiple studies show that even very low levels of chlorpyrifos and other organophosphate pesticides can permanently impair children's cognitive skills. Prenatal exposures are especially worrisome. More than 25 scientific studies show strong associations between a pregnant mother's exposure to OP pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, and problems with learning and behavior in her child.
Ms. Glass implored the committee members, "We have the power to make our water and produce safer. We can prevent neurotoxic pesticides from being sprayed into the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the fruits and vegetables we eat."
Acting on the scientific evidence, the EPA banned residential use of this pesticide in 2000 but allowed its continued use in agriculture.
Ms. Glass said, "Make no mistake – if chlorpyrifos is too dangerous to be used in our homes and schools, it is certainly too dangerous to spray on our food.
The EPA has found that all exposures to chlorpyrifos through food exceed safe levels. The use of chlorpyrifos on farm fields and crops puts our children and future generations at greater risk of learning and developmental disabilities, attention and behavior disorders.
The science is irrefutable that this pesticide does lasting harm to babies' brains, leaving children, parents and schools struggling to deal with life-long impairments.
Ms. Glass implored the Legislature to ban the use of chlorpyrifos in our state, to put an end to this avoidable neurodevelopmental harm, and to help ensure that all of our children are able to learn and grow to their full potential.