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Concern for Schools Near Areas of Pesticide Use

8-19-14

By Christie Duffy
Correspondent

A non-profit environmental group at odds with a chemical manufacturer over the safety of a weed killer. Caught in the middle — 72 New Jersey elementary schools located within 1,000 feet of fields sprayed with the chemical.

According to a new report by the non-profit Environmental Working Group, 487 elementary schools across the country are at risk of exposure to the “toxic herbicide” known as 2,4-D. The product’s maker is calling this recent report inflammatory.

An interactive map included in the report marks nine elementary schools in red, signifying that they are within 200 feet of corn and soybean fields.

Orchard Hill Elementary in Montgomery, Somerset County. It’s marked in red on the map. The school has farms on three sides.

“Faculty, parents, and students should be concerned because exposure to 2,4-D has been linked to Parkinson’s, cancer, reproductive and thyroid issues and children under 12 are especially vulnerable,” said Environmental Working Group Senior Policy Analyst Mary Ellen Kustin.

But the Environmental Protection Agency says parents do not need to worry, as long as the product is used correctly.

“We at EPA have spent a lifetime looking at 2,4-D. We have concluded that the products currently registered in the United States and the enlist product that has been proposed for registration are going to be safe for kids,” said EPA Deputy Director of Pesticide Programs William Jordan.

The new product under their consideration is called “Enlist Duo” and it contains 2,4-D, which has been used by farmers for decades. But today’s weeds are more resistant and reports say farmers are anxiously awaiting the new product’s approval. The federal government’s decision is due in the fall.

Dow Agrosciences, which makes “Enlist Duo,” provided a two-page response to NJTV News today, stating, “The Environmental Working Group’s inflammatory claims represent an irresponsible attempt to proliferate misinformation that has previously been debunked, on multiple occasions.”

According to an industry task force, 2,4-D is the most widely used herbicide in the world, with 46 million pounds used each year here in the U.S. on roadways, residential lawns and farmland.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center at Oregon State University, exposure to 2,4-D can irritate the skin. But the NPIC says research has not implicated any relationships between exposure and disease.