TRACES of two of the 20 pesticides that have been proven as hazardous by the Malaysia-based environment group Pesticide Action Network Philippines (Pan-ap) were found in three upland elementary and secondary schools in the city, according to the Interface Development Interventions (Idis).

Idis executive director Ann Fuertes identified the three schools with traces of Chlorothalonil and Mancozeb pesticides as Vinzons Elementary School in Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District, Ma. Cristina P. Belcar Agricultural School (formerly Baguio High School of Agriculture) in Tawantawan, Davao City, and Baracayo Elementary School in Daliao Plantation.

Chlorothalonil and Mancozeb are two of the 20 pesticides in the hazardous list maintained by Pan-ap.

The other 18 pesticides are Chlorpyrifos, Monocrotophos, Malathion, Methamidophos, DDT, Permethrin, Diazinon, Paraquat, Propoxur, Atrazine, Dichlorvos, Cypermethrin, Deltamethrin, Methyl parathion, Carbaryl, Parathion, Lambda-cyhalothrin, and Maneb.

The Pan-ap has called for a ban on these chemicals.

Fuertes said Chlorothalonil and Mancozeb are pesticides that are being used in aerial spray mixtures.

"In the water and air monitoring studies that IDIS has conducted in an elementary school and two high schools in the uplands, we have also found traces of Chlorpyrifos and Diazinon. The others on this list are also registered pesticides in the country, meaning they are also being sold here," she said.

Idis joined the global call to phase out highly hazardous pesticides, citing its deadly impact on children living in plantations.

"The pesticide drift caused by aerial spraying in banana plantations constitutes a direct threat on the health and lives of the children of the farmers and communities living around the banana plantations," Fuertes said.

According to Idis, pesticide use is now pegged at 2.3 million tons, or 50 times more than in 1950.

Pan-ap president Dr. Romeo Quijano, MD, also underscored the danger of pesticide exposure.

"Pesticides and other toxic contaminants in air, water, and food have emerged as important causal factors for various developmental abnormalities, cancers and other diseases suffered by children. Hardly any person or any place on earth is left uncontaminated and not poisoned to some degree by these toxic chemicals," Quijano said.

Quijano said he has studied and observed the harmful effects of pesticides in his work in academia and in various countries as a medical professional.

"In banana plantation communities in the Philippines, in palm oil plantations in Malaysia, in cashew plantations in India, in garbage dump communities in the cities, and in many other areas, I have examined children harmed by pesticides and other toxic chemicals," he said.

Both environmental groups encouraged the public to join the campaign by launching petitions to government officials to stop aerial spraying, sharing photo or video messages as well as stories on the harmful impact of pesticides on children in their communities or by initiating public discussions.

"As we mark World Environment Day this June, we all need to do our share in making our environment free of toxic pesticides for the future of our children. We need to deliver a strong message that this culture of wanton poisoning by corporate plantations should stop and that safe and sustainable pest control methods should be used instead," Fuertes said. (PR)