February 2019

Landmark Legislation

Kids walking to schoolThe California Guild’s priority legislation for 2019 was introduced in the California Legislature today.  The California Child Protection Act, measure AB 468 (Muratsuchi, D-Torrance), will require the State’s 1,026 school districts (including child daycare centers) to implement Organic Landscape Management Practices (in place of toxic pesticides) in outdoor areas such as playgrounds, turf and athletic playing fields.

The measure states the policy that toxic lawn care pesticides (as defined) shall not be used on outdoor spaces of schoolsites (playgrounds, etc.) unless an emergency pesticide application is necessary due to an imminent threat to public health (such as an attack of wasps).

Guild President Bob McFarland commented, "This is nothing short of landmark legislation, many years in the making and the result of dedication, compassion and down right stubbornness. It is a triumph for our members, our organization and most of all for the children of California." He particularly expressed his gratitude to Diana Rude, the Guild's champion Legislative Advocate.

There is growing scientific evidence that pesticides are contributing to a whole generation of children observed to be increasingly hyper- active, slow to learn and disruptive in schools. [i]

The California Guild is grateful for the courageous support of Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance, 66th Assembly District) for introducing AB 468, a landmark and critically important measure to protect children from toxic pesticide exposure at schools across California. Two organizations, Non-Toxic Communities and Beyond Pesticides, are partnering with the Guild and co-sponsoring the measure.

In 2017 parents at the Palos Verdes Unified School District, located in the Assemblyman’s 66th Assembly District, reported children experiencing symptoms such as rashes, headaches and difficulty breathing following pesticide spraying at the local schools. It should be noted that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, symptoms of pesticide poisoning in children include: 1) headaches, 2) dizziness/weakness; 3) muscle twitching; 4) difficulty breathing; 5) skin rashes and 6) eye burning. The Palos Verdes Unified School District subsequently decided to suspend pesticide use due to health concerns.

According to “National Capital Poison Center” statistics, National Data 2017, while children younger than 6 years comprise a disproportionate percentage of all poisoning cases,
poisoning affects all age groups from infants to seniors.  Peak poisoning frequency occurs
in one and two year olds, but poisonings in teens and adults are more serious. 

A Washington, DC based organization, Beyond Pesticides, has reported that of 30 common pesticides, 16 are linked with cancer; 12 are linked with birth defects; 21 with reproductive
effects; 25 with liver or kidney damage; 14 with neurotoxicity; 26 with effects as a sensitizer-
irritant; and 17 are linked with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal system).  (See "Health
Effects of 30 Commonly Used Pesticides", Beyond Pesticides)[ii]

"Organic Landscaping is a problem-solving strategy that supports the natural cycling of
nutrients that nature has already put in motion. It is a ‘feed-the-soil’ approach that centers
on natural, organic fertilization, soil amendments, microbial inoculants, compost teas,
microbial food sources, and topdressing as needed with high quality finished compost," states Beyond Pesticides' Drew Tohers.

According to a 2010 study of cost comparisons between conventional chemical turf
management and natural organic turf management by Grassroots Environmental Education,
“The analysis of data demonstrates that, once established, a natural turf management
program can result in savings of greater than 25% compared to a conventional turf
management program.”  (

Non-Toxic Irvine and Harvard University are examples of highly successful use of organic landscape management practices through increased microbes that feed the soil resulting in eliminating use of synthetic nitrogen, with prominent improvements in soil quality and water retention in soils, thereby generating cost savings.

The California Guild is a nonprofit membership organization with chapters across the state.
Our legislative agenda is inspired by grass roots advocacy.  We are dedicated to healthier communities and a brighter future.

For more information, please contact

[i] Rauh, Virginia A.; Margolis, Amy, J.;  Child Psychol. Psychiatry, 2016, Jul, 57 (7); 775793, National Library of Medicine H.H.S., Research Review: Environmental Exposures, neurodevelopment and child mental health – new paradigms for the study of brain and
behavioral effects,

[ii] Health Effects of 30 Commonly Used Lawn Pesticides, A Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet,