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Washington State Begins Mandated Pesticide Drift Study

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2007) As directed by the 2007 legislature, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is starting a 2-year, $150,000 Voluntary Notification Study Project concerning the application of “Danger/Poison” pesticides near schools, hospitals, nursing homes and adult and child daycares.

This project will collect data to determine if notification is a significant factor in reducing pesticide exposures when agricultural “Danger/Poison” pesticides are applied by aerial or airblast application methods near these facilities. The Study Project will be limited to Chelan, Kittitas and Yakima Counties and will run from October 1, 2007 to October 1, 2009. It will focus on pesticides labeled with the signal words “Danger/Poison” that are applied either by air or by airblast application equipment. A voluntary notification register will be maintained by the Department and made available for applicators to check contact information if they plan on making specific types of applications near facilities. The primary source of information regarding location of facilities and facility contact information will be the WSDA website. Contact information will also be available by phone for those applicators who do not have access to the Internet.

This is a Voluntary Notification Project. No regulatory action will be taken against any applicator that fails to notify a nearby facility nor against any facility that does not want to be notified. However, it is hoped that by providing an easy and practical way for applicators to let facilities know in advance that an application is anticipated, communication will be enhanced and the potential for pesticide exposures reduced.

The Department will contact both state certified or licensed facilities and applicators in the three counties to inform them of the project. Facilities will be provided information on how to contact the Department’s Pesticide Management Division. Applicators will be informed on where they can find information on facilities that want to be notified.

As a requirement in order for a facility to be listed on the WSDA website for notification, the facility must agree to completing a questionnaire. The questionnaire may be copied, and additional copies may be downloaded from the WSDA website, or the department may be contacted for more copies.

WSDA will not be collecting specific information on the pesticides applied or the applicator. An interim report will be provided to the Governor at the end of 2008, and a final report will be issued at the end of 2009. Data will be collected on the number and type of facilities participating, the number of notifications received, any actions taken by a facility as a result of the notification, any increase or decrease in the number of drift complaints reported to WSDA due to increased awareness of applications and acceptance and satisfaction with the process.

What is this project? A two-year study to determine if providing pesticide applicators with contact information for accredited schools, hospitals, nursing homes and state licensed adult and child daycares will reduce pesticide drift complaints or potential pesticide drift exposure by allowing them to voluntarily notify facilities before applications.

What facilities are included in this project? Accredited schools, hospitals, nursing homes, adult daycares and child daycares in Chelan, Yakima and Kittitas counties.

What pesticides are affected? Products labeled with the signal words “Danger/Poison” that are applied by aircraft or by airblast sprayers.

For more information, go to the Washington State Department of Agriculture website.


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