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Pesticides and Schools - Parent Notification Law

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As of July 2002, public schools and licensed daycares in Washington are required to establish a system for notifying parents and employees of pesticides being used on school grounds. They are required to:

  • Provide annual written notice to parents, guardians, and employees of the school's pest control policies and methods, including how they will notify interested parents and
  • Post information at least 48 hours before application.
Children on a see saw

This new requirement is the result of Substitute Senate Bill 5533 (text, 26K), signed into law in 2001. Exemptions exist when students are not in school for at least two consecutive days after the application, or in case of emergencies that pose an immediate human health or safety threat, such as an application to control stinging insects.

Generally, schools have been moving away from highly toxic pesticides as the number of students and staff sensitive to chemicals has increased, but the new law provides a uniform policy and specific posting requirements in the main office and at entry points to the school.

The Local Hazardous Waste Management Program is working with King County school districts to provide education about the specifics of the law and to increase dialogue about safer alternatives to pesticides. Integrated pest management may require more effort and tolerance for weeds on the parts of staff, students, and parents but will benefit the health and safety of both people and the environment. Next time you see a dandelion at your local school, take a yank.

  1. See the WA State Department of Agriculture's Compliance Guide (PDF, 1999K) for the Use of Pesticides at Public Schools (K-12) and licensed daycare centers.
  2. Find out what your district is doing to comply with the law. Get ideas from this article (PDF, 15K) prepared for school districts.
  3. Learn more about Integrated Pest Management (IPM) (PDF, 26K) and safer gardening and pest control. Many of the same strategies that are used for homes are used successfully on school and business grounds.
  4. Review sample integrated pest management policies already in place.
  5. In the Spring of 2002, King County hosted a workshop on Pesticides in Schools: Posting, Notification and IPM for school district grounds and maintenance personnel in King County.
  6. Explore resources available from other sites.
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A father and son in a parkIf you are interested or concerned about pesticide use at your local school:
  1. Contact your school and find out what their notification policy is.
  2. If you know the products your school is using and you'd like help learning more about these products, contact the Natural Lawn & Garden Hotline at Lawn& or (206) 633-0224.
  3. Learn more about Integrated Pest Management (IPM) (PDF, 26K) and safer gardening and pest control.
  4. Volunteer to help with weed management. Many schools have Adopt-a-Flowerbed programs for student and parent volunteers.
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For information on Integrated Pest Management, particularly the management of landscape-related problems, call the Natural Lawn and Gardening Hotline at (206) 633-0224.

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