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Irvine parents share concerns about pesticide use in schools

Dozens of parents gathered for the Irvine Unified School District's board meeting Tuesday to express concern over the use of toxic pesticides on the district's campuses.

Kathleen Hallal of the Irvine PTA discussed the harmful effects of pesticides and said she has worked with the district's maintenance and operations department and Supt. Terry Walker for more than a year to find an alternative.

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The school acknowledges it has used Roundup to control weeds, and Hallal said she has reason to believe several other pesticides are used on the grounds as well. School officials said they could not confirm what other chemicals are used.

Hallal cited studies done by the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society. Earlier this year, both organizations declared glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, a probable carcinogen.

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Last week, Walker temporarily banned the use of Roundup at schools on the basis of the research. During the ban, the board will consider possible replacements and have the remaining pesticides being used at schools reviewed.

"We are finding the best ways to serve the public, whether that involves our facilities, instruction or maintenance of our grounds," Walker said. "We're invested and dedicated to this process of collecting data to see if we're on the right track in finding another option."

Hallal said she discovered the company BeeSafe Organic Lawn Care through Facebook. The company's liquid and granular products for lawn maintenance are said to be nontoxic.

Many people who attended the meeting, some from Irvine's PTA, came to listen and support Hallal's statement.

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"My hope is that other districts will watch what Irvine is doing and they will also decide to remove toxic pesticides," Hallal said.

In the meantime, she encourages families to test for glyphosate levels in their bodies through a urine sample.

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