EPA sued for failure to protect school children from pesticides
A group of California parents are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failure to protect students at Latino public schools in California. In Oxnard, Calif., the schools are near crop fields where methyl bromide and other fumigants are sprayed.
In 1999, Maria Garcia and other parents filed a complaint with the EPA regarding high levels of harmful pesticides. The EPA did find high levels of exposure, according to the Garcia complaint:
"EPA found Latino schoolchildren in California suffered disparate adverse effects from the application of methyl bromide between 1995 through 2001. EPA found both short-term and chronic exposures above EPA’s threshold of concern. EPA kept the preliminary finding secret and did not inform Garcia, the other complainants, or the general public of the discrimination finding."
Instead, the EPA entered in a voluntary agreement with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation that did not remedy the problem, the parents argue. The new lawsuit is being filed on Garcia's behalf by the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, California Rural Legal Assistance Inc., Farmworker Justice and The City Project.
Fourteen years after the first complaint, Maria Garcia is still dedicated to this issue. According to a press release from the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, the problem "has gone on so long that Maria’s son who participated in the original suit as a high school student is now a father with two children who will attend the same polluted schools he did."