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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Pesticide Fumes Send 2 Home at Mound School

November 09, 2000|ANNA GORMAN

VENTURA — Two Ventura students went home from school Wednesday morning after a pesticide was sprayed on a nearby citrus orchard, school officials said.

The Mound Elementary School students, as well as a few teachers and staff members, complained of dizziness and headaches after the owner sprayed an insecticide on the field, Principal Richard Kirby said.

No students or teachers at adjacent Balboa Middle School reported similar symptoms, said Assistant Principal Lane Jackson.

The Ventura Unified School District called in a representative from the county's agricultural department to take samples and determine if the fumes had drifted onto the school grounds. Mound Elementary also decided to switch to a rainy-day schedule, with all students staying inside during recess and lunch.

"We didn't think it was really dangerous," said Robert Dalto, the school district's director of risk management. "But we wanted to be on the safe side."

The school sent home a letter to parents about what happened and what symptoms to look for in their children. District officials also contacted the citrus grove owner about future pesticide sprayings, Dalto said.

"The agreement is that they don't spray during school hours," Kirby said. "But we'd like to get them to agree not to spray during the week, and only on the weekends."

Representatives of a local advocacy group said the incident shows the need to continue fighting against the use of pesticides near schools.

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