Toluca Lake CA. -Robina Suwol , founder and Executive Director of California Safe Schools was named by UTNE magazine as one of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World” www.utne.com/2008-11-13/50-Visionaries-Who-Are-Changing-Your-World.aspx

Her journey began in March of 1998, when a group of school children, about to begin their day at Sherman Oaks Elementary School , encountered a gardener in a hazardous materials suit employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD ) The gardener, unaware students were present, sprayed the herbicide Princep creating a cloud of pesticide mist students were forced to walk through in order to reach their classrooms.

Several parents who had dropped off their children at the school were alarmed to witness this event. One of them was Robina Suwol, whose sons, aged six and ten, walked directly through the cloud. Later, her youngest son, Nicholas, whose asthma had been under control, experienced a severe asthma attack. Suwol’s research on a pest management web site sponsored by Cornell University revealed that a single exposure to Princep could cause tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and other symptoms.

With no litigious motives, only a desire to protect students, teachers, staff and residents near school site, Robina Suwol began to investigate. She learned that LAUSD, the nations second-largest school district, relied on an industrial approach to pest control. She learned that training for pesticide applicators at schools was uneven, and that mixtures surpassing recommended safety levels were not unknown at LAUSD. She learned that many chemical pesticides commonly used in schools have a high risk factor for growing children, with risks of cancer and learning disabilities. Because LAUSD cares for more than 800,000 students, the issue of pesticide safety at school became evident as long overdue for parent and community attention.

With the support of the School Board, a committee was formed. One year to the date Nicholas became ill, California Safe Schools and LA Unified created the first policy in USA for public schools that embraced the Precautionary Principle and Parents Right to Know regarding pesticides in schools.

The policy has become national and international model, and led to California law - Healthy Schools Act 2000 The passage of AB 405 ( Montanez ) was a perfect example of dedication. Robina worked to prevent experimental pesticides, whose health effects are unknown at California k-12 public schools with Assemblymember Montanez. It was signed on October 6, 2005 by Governor Schwarzenegger.


Robina was twice selected by Volvo as Award Finalist Hero ( 3rd & 5th ) and the recipient of the Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 - 2007 Environmental Award, Red Cross Women of Spirit Award, 2007 US Pollution Prevention Champion, Precautionary Principle Award, Los Angeles County Children's Leading Boldly Children's Award & 2007 South Coast Air Quality Management District's Environmental Stewardship Award, and Prevention Magazine Hero.

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