Teacher and student health in the classroom

With school back in session, let us address a very important and timely matter that, as best we can tell, schools aren’t telling you.

Here’s the truth: Every day, children and teachers walk into a classroom that has been cleaned with chemical pesticides. But school administrators aren’t talking about how these toxic cleaners could be poisoning our children.  

As you know, the pandemic had everyone spraying, scrubbing and washing around the clock. So it was no surprise back then that the use of handy electrostatic sprayers loaded with disinfectants on the EPA’s List N were popular and embraced by school custodians who were stressed-out and overworked yet under pressure to make sure everything was disinfected to the smallest detail.

But all that spraying had an unintended effect. We were poisoning our children. That’s because all products on the EPA list of products to disinfect schools are technically pesticides. And pesticide exposure in childhood has been linked to attention and learning problems, as well as cancer. Even death.

Today, as children return to school in the post-pandemic era, parents should be concerned that pesticides are still being used to clean classrooms, school hallways, and teachers’ lounges. Even poison control centers have urged caution. Chemical cleaners, some say, are the leading factor behind poison control cases since Covid was first declared a public health emergency.

The problem is, there is no real guideline on how schools should be cleaned. So school administrators lean toward the use of products recommended by the EPA because they don’t know how to identify safer products. 

For too long, we’ve simply accepted that our kids are in good hands at school—and they mostly are. But it’s time we told each other that it’s important to speak up against the cleaning products used by schools. 

"Pesticides are designed to kill living organisms. Your children are living organisms." 

One heavyweight, Clorox bleach, surged in demand during of the pandemic. We haven’t always raised our voices, and we haven’t always told each other the truth about the dangers of bleach, but one would like to think that we’re close to embracing positive change when it comes to using chemicals around children. 

But nothing happens unless we all demand that schools ditch their toxic cleaners. Safer alternatives exist. Click here to watch a short video that describes how Advap’s innovative technology uses the minerals found in ordinary tap water to kill a very broad range of pathogens thousands of times better than the standard that chemical disinfectants must meet to qualify as EPA registered. It’s proven by science and written about in top scientific journals such as the American Journal of Infection Control.

And yet, most schools have decided to stick with chemicals. The fear of change and an affinity for traditional things is more compelling than the health and wheel-being of our children, or so it seems. This could be one of the nation’s biggest health mistakes. 

Let’s be crystal clear and say it again: The chemicals used to clean and disinfect schools have serious health effects, especially for young children. That’s because their brain and nervous systems are in their early stages of development. Preschools and daycares would do well, therefore, to investigate non-toxic cleaning alternatives fully.   

Remember, pesticides are designed to kill living organisms. Your children are living organisms.


Editor’s note: This updated story originally ran on April 25, 2022 on Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global.