Canada

Parents want pesticide ban

A mother is campaigning for a bylaw against pesticides in the Montreal suburb of Saint Laurent. Marie-Reine Calouche was prompted to action when a classmate of her son was taken to the emergency ward last week after pesticides were sprayed near his school.

Calouche is now going door to door, spreading the word about pesticides. "I think that they are poisoning our children at this present time because there are no regulations at all, there are no city bylaws," says Calouche.

Asthma attack and allergic conjunctivitis

On her rounds she tells people about the incident at her son's school, Holy Cross elementary. She describes what happened to Keith Nathan Ruggles, a ten year old with Downs Syndrome. After the spraying, Keith has an asthma attack. "To me, he suffered a lot, because since he hadn't had it for the longest while, and now, all of a sudden bam! It was shocking for him ," explains his mother, Elaine Ruggles. Keith ended up in an emergency room. The doctor sent him home with a note which read: "Keith suffered an asthma attack and an allergic conjunctivitis as a result of playing on grass that was recently treated with a herbicide."

City admits it shouldn't have sprayed during school hours

The city of Saint Laurent says it is careful about spraying near schools. It will not spray grass attached to school property. But it does spray the grass right in front of the school. "There's no specific measure so many feet or so many metres it's a matter of common sense," says Raymond Carrire, from Saint Laurent's public works department.

The city acknowledges it made a mistake by spraying grass during school hours. Now that the city knows about the timing of Keith's asthma attack things may change. Carrire says, "That is enough of a link for us to look into the use of pesticides closer to schools."

That's not enough for Calouche. She wants a complete ban on pesticide use. She'll gather as much support as she can before the next City Hall meeting.