Letter to the editor: Integrated pest management the way to go


A special thanks to the Encinitas Advocate for highlighting the Council’s decision to pursue a strict Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy on City-owned properties, develop a pilot for a pesticide-free park and educate the community about safe alternatives to pesticides.

Many locally are already involved in the IPM movement which recognizes that pesticides should be used sparingly, as a last resort. The Encinitas Union School District, San Diego Botanical Gardens and the Leichtag Foundation’s farm all successfully operate under such a policy.

The City’s desire to strengthen their approach to IPM speaks to our increasing knowledge of the harms that pesticides have on our health – not to mention the health of our environment.

As a mother, my research has focused on children and prenatal exposure. However, as a previous educator for the Parkinson’s Association, I am aware of the strong link between pesticides and Parkinson’s as well as cancer and other “adult” ailments.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in 2012 saying that children’s exposure to pesticides should be reduced because research has found associations between early life exposure and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that children are at a greater risk from exposure because their organs are still developing and their systems may not provide adequate protection. Also, their behaviors increase their chances of exposure (e.g. playing on the grass where pesticides are commonly applied, putting objects in their mouths). According to the EPA, effects of exposure range from dizziness and nausea to serious, long-term neurological, developmental and reproductive disorders.

In 2014, a study published by University of California, Davis, showed a link between residential proximity to agricultural pesticide applications during pregnancy and autism. Results regarding organophosphates showed a 60 percent increased risk in having a child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Results regarding pyrethroids, a class of pesticides considered safer than organophosphates and commonly used in home pest control, showed an even greater risk. Agricultural applications include those at parks, golf courses, right-of-ways, etc.

Clearly, the City is taking the right steps to keep its citizens safe by ensuring its IPM program is implemented to its fullest potential, piloting a pesticide-free park and sharing safe alternatives with the community.

Please be vocal about your support. Write a letter, give a call, send an e-mail.

Visit to stay informed.

Sara Parra, MSW