Teachers, parents and community activists protested at the California Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday demanding safeguards for children against exposure to pesticides used near schools.
They want the agency’s Department of Pesticide Regulation to establish one-mile buffer zones around public schools, day care centers, bus stops and school routes.
Those behind the rally say pesticide use near schools disproportionately affects Hispanic children.
"We’re talking about farm working communities in California that are predominately Mexican American communities. It’s basically environmental racism. It’s an attack on our communities. And we’re asking the state and federal government and these government agencies to step up and do their jobs," says Ana Barrere, a teacher from Salinas.
Rocio Armijo traveled from Kern County to attended the rally with her daughters Judith and Edyth.
“We want that change. We want the spraying buffer--one mile. We want it to be in writing. We’ve been waiting for it and this is why we’re continuing to work and putting pressure and pushing so that change can be made,” Armijo says.
Protesters say the regulations were supposed to have come out back in February.
Charlotte Fadipe, spokeswoman for the Department of Pesticide Regulation, says the agency will be releasing a draft regulation by the end of the summer.
“We have to come up with basically a standard for how often and how the school is notified. That’s part one. The second part is also going to be we will be placing some restrictions on pesticide applications around schools," says Fadipe.
Fadipe says the agency’s goal is to implement the guidelines in 2017. Currently, there is no statewide standard on how school's should be notified about pesticide usage near schools.