California to join other states in restricting school pesticides

If all goes as planned, by September 2017 California will join nine states in restricting pesticide use near schools. Of the states with regulations, California’s will be the most restrictive as far as chemical use and application methods, says Brian Leahy, Director of California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

The regulations restrict pesticide applications 25 feet to a quarter mile from schools between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday—the distance depending on the application method and the type of pesticide. For example, a minimum quarter mile distance is required for applications using aircraft, air blast sprayers, sprinkler equipment, fumigants, and most dust and powders.

Property owners must provide both annual and application-specific notification to schools in advance of all pesticide applications.

 “These regulations would offer protection for those who need it most—the youngest members of our population, who are still growing and their bodies and brains are still developing,” said Megan Dunn, a program director with The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP), a long-time leading organization in pesticide alternatives.

The need to protect schools and daycares from agricultural drift is well established. The nationwide study, “Acute Illnesses Associated with Pesticide Exposure at Schools,” published in the Journal of American Medical Association in 2010, documented acute illnesses associated with pesticide exposure at schools. Among 406 cases with detailed information on the source of pesticide exposure, 281 (69%) were associated with pesticides used at schools and 125 (31%) were associated with pesticide drift exposure from farmland. According to the report, over 100 cases of pesticide drift illnesses were associated with exposure at a school from farmland drift.

More than 500 comments on the regulations are being summarized and will be posted on the DPR website in the first quarter of 2017, with the goal to have the regulations in place by September.