Oct. 11, 2005

Anne Pleshette Murphy, "Good Morning America"'s parenting expert, offered some tips on what parents should do if they suspect toxins or pesticides are causing an unhealthy environment at their children's school.

 If you think your child has been made sick by a toxin at school, get them out of school and to a pediatrician. You don't want to risk permanent damage.
 Not all pediatricians are up to date on these problems. So if your pediatrician is unclear, and you still suspect that school toxins are a problem, get a referral.
 Find out who is responsible for maintaining school health and safety. You can also request school inspection records – officials are obliged to give them to you.
 Find out about alternatives to pesticides and other chemicals. There is a program called Integrated Pest Management that many schools are adopting, which uses the least toxic approaches to insect and weed control.
 If there is a problem, parents need to join together and document everything. Write letters to teachers, principals, the PTA and other interested parties and keep copies.

For more information, visit the following Web sites:

 Healthy Schools Network, Inc.Research, advocacy and coalition-building for safer school environments.
 Healthy Kids: The Key to Basics – Dedicated to promoting a better understanding of the health and educational needs of students with asthma and other chronic health conditions.
 Beyond Pesticides – Formerly the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, working to reduce unnecessary pesticide use, thus improving protection of public health and the environment.