Chemical pesticides can affect children's health and well-being.

Latino school children were put at risk when California pesticide regulators approved the use of a dangerous pesticide near their schools, the US Environmental Protection Agency said last week.

A civil rights complaint was filed in 1999, alleging that the annual approval of methyl bromide affected the health of the school children nearby.

An AP article said this was the first time the EPA announced this kind of settlement in a civil rights complaint case.

Methyl bromide – which is injected into the soil to kill pests, weeds and diseases before crops are planted – is being phased out by 2015 under international treaty because it depletes the Earth’s ozone layer.

Some farmers continue to use it, because they are granted an exemption by pesticide regulators.

In California, 17.1 million pounds of methyl bromide were applied in 1995, while 5.57 million pounds were applied in 2009, according to state regulators.

As part of the settlement with the EPA, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation has to expand monitoring of methyl bromide air concentrations by adding one monitor in the area of highest risk, a school in Watsonville.

But the measures and the settlement don’t provide any remedy to the parents or children whose civil rights were violated, said Brent Newell, a lawyer with the San Francisco-based Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment who filed the complaint 12 years ago on behalf of parents and children in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Ventura.

“It provides no substantive relief or remedy to the people who were affected,” Newell said. “Those school children have since graduated from high school and the EPA gave them no remedy.”

Source: The Ledger

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