Roundup weedkiller woes: What kinds of pesticides are our schools spraying?

19 Investigates reached out to several schools in Northeast Ohio.

Roundup weedkiller woes: What kinds of pesticides are our schools spraying?
The debate continues over the safety of Roundup weedkiller and its active ingredient glyphosate. (Source: CBS News)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The debate over the safety of Roundup weedkiller continues after a jury ordered Bayer to pay more than $2 billion in damages to a California couple that claimed they got cancer from using the weedkiller for years.

This comes two weeks after the EPA said Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, does not cause cancer.

But the cancer research agency of the World Health Organization called glyphosate "probably carcinogenic."

Watch our full story on concerns over Roundup and weedkillers here.

We checked in with 15 school districts across Northeast Ohio to see what pesticides or organic alternatives they are using.

19 News asked what product or brand they use on school grounds, how much of it they use and how often.

We also asked if children are kept off the grass and whether parents are notified.

Only eight school systems replied to our questions.

Cleveland, Shaker Heights, Beachwood, Parma, Chardon, Ashtabula and Sandusky school districts did not reply.

19News asked 15 schools across Northeast Ohio what kind of pesticides they use.
19News asked 15 schools across Northeast Ohio what kind of pesticides they use. (Source: WOIO)

Here are the results by school district.

AVON LOCAL SCHOOLS

The school district did not answer our questionnaire. They sent us the statement below, adding they are considering organic alternatives after we asked them to specify.

“The Avon Local School district is currently evaluating alternatives to treatments on our school grounds. We have not purchased Roundup this year. As we continue to test products, and evaluate the effectiveness of those products, as well as cost of the products, we will make a determination regarding future product purchases after our evaluations.”

LAKEWOOD CITY SCHOOLS

  • Usually uses Preen Organic Weed Control on bush lines
  • Also uses The Anderson’s weed & grass preventer on bush lines
  • Lawn weeds are left alone or hand pulled, they use a heavy layer of mulch and weed fabric
  • Best Greening Services fertilizes over school breaks

AKRON PUBLIC SCHOOLS

  • Stopped using Roundup
  • Training employees to use Spectracide Weed & Grass Killer
  • Applies it on non-school days, or when students are inside of buildings
  • They keep all application records on file according to state and federal law

CANTON CITY SCHOOLS

  • Used to use Roundup, hasn’t used it for three years
  • Uses a product called Dimension
  • They spray at the end of the school year and after building hours

BAY VILLAGE CITY SCHOOLS

  • Uses a mixture of vinegar, Dawn dishwashing detergent and Epsom Salts in playground areas
  • They may use other herbicides through TruGreen service in “out of the way” areas away from playgrounds
  • A school spokesperson says the company states that they use no “products containing known or probable human carcinogens as defined by the U.S. EPA, the National Toxicology Program, or the International Agency for Research in Cancer.”

MENTOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

  • Uses Ranger Pro, spot sprays as needed
  • Applies when students are off school

LORAIN CITY SCHOOLS

  • Uses Roundup in the garden and mulched areas of school buildings
  • Applies pesticides during school breaks and before and after school hours

ELYRIA CITY SCHOOLS

  • Uses 3 Way Herbicide as needed
  • Posts signs when the area is treated
  • Applies various times during school year

19 News found Ohio requires school districts to send prior notification of pesticide spraying to anyone who requests it, including parents and staff.

Pesticides explainer

We have received many questions from viewers since our story aired about herbicides and pesticides.

The EPA says:

Pesticide active ingredients are described by the types of pests they control or how they work. People often use the term “pesticide” to refer only to insecticides, but it actually applies to all the substances used to control pests.

Well known pesticides (terms defined below) include:

insecticides,

herbicides,

rodenticides, and

fungicides.

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