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Marin County Found to Violate Its Law Restricting Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2009) An independent review is challenging government noncomplicance with a 1998 Marin County, California law that prohibits the use of certain highly toxic pesticides by any department. The research by an independent citizen has uncovered dozens of violations of the county’s own law until as recently as 2007. Local groups have called for an investigation by the Board of Supervisors, as well as more protective wording put into a revision of the county’s pesticide policy.

The county law states that no department may use “any ingredient classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a human carcinogen, probable human carcinogen, possible human carcinogen, reproductive toxin, or developmental toxin.” According to a report by Corte Madera resident Paul Apfel, county employees violated that law at least 92 times between 1999 and 2007, using thousands of gallons of chemicals.

“We have verified that the county has used a class of chemicals that the IPM [Integrated Pest Management] ordinance identifies should only be used under the exemption process,” said County Administrator Matthew Hymel. “Part of the confusion is that these chemicals were not on the state list but they were on the EPA list of possible carcinogens.” Fred Crowder, the county’s deputy agricultural commissioner, said he recommended pesticides based on the California Proposition 65 list, rather than EPA’s larger list of carcinogens. While Mr. Crowder admitted his mistake, he also tried to justify it by saying they are “also available at the local garden store and there is nothing there that is not available to the public.” (To see which pesticides have been linked to carcinogenic, reproductive, and developmental effects, visit the Pesticide Gateway.)

“It shouldn’t have been done and the citizens of Marin are entitled to a public hearing on this,” Mr. Apfel said. “It can’t be swept under the rug. It was the citizens who were wronged.”

“I want to find out what happened with the misreporting to us about what was used and why the process wasn’t followed,” Supervisor Susan Adams said. “The error was not because we sprayed illegal pesticides but we didn’t follow the process in the ordinance to allow that use.”

Local environmental and health activists disagreed with the county’s assessment of the violation. “The county law states that a limited use exemption is granted on an emergency basis,” said Carolyn Cohen of Mothers of Marin Against the Spray. “That Does not mean every month, except for the rainy season, for 10 years. That’s completely inappropriate.”

A review of the updated IPM ordinance is tentatively scheduled for June 23. For more information on organizing in your community to reduce pesticide use, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Tools for Change page.

Sources: Contra Costa Times (June 5 and June 9)


4 Responses to “Marin County Found to Violate Its Law Restricting Pesticide Use”

  1. 1
    k williams Says:

    According to Dr. Larry Meredith, Director, County of Marin Health & Human Services:

    Marin County has one of the highest incidence rate of breast cancer of California counties. Currently, too little is known with certainty about the specific nature or distribution of personal risk factors, environmental risk factors or biological and genetic risk factors among women in Marin. The complexity of breast cancer etiology and pathophysiology combined with potentially long latency periods provide a perplexing challenge for researchers, health care providers, health officials and the community at large.

    Why are these health pro’s so confused??

    Mr. Crowder and his criminally, and morally irresponsible behavior is yet another example of public servants–gone bad.

  2. 2
    Mary Says:

    Public servants do not serve the public

    They serve the pesticide industry
    Follow the Money

    In Florida beautiful lawns and golf courses are a priority which rank on top of the list

    Citizens’ complaints of toxic exposure to herbicides and pesticides are ignored or swept under the carpet on a routine basis here

    Someone needs to look into this

  3. 3
    Dr. Plant Says:

    Go take some Zicam chicken littles – or some other form of voodoo. Pesticides are tested, and the hazard from homeopaths, pharmaceutics and other untested materials ingested by humans are much greater than pesticides.

  4. 4
    k williams Says:

    What exactly are you a doctor of?..prescriptions for little chickens?

    And what does the “good” doctor have as proof of his obviously obtuse and conflicted opinion??…not all of us doctor… are “on” something that the conventional medical profession is all to anxious to dispense. ($$$). How about you?

    I’ll take this slow for you Dr. Plant….There’s this great book…all words are defined within it…it’s called the Dictionary. Now… look up the word poison, it’s under the -P- words(all conventional pesticides are labeled poison), did you learn something new? Now plant that in you head–and think about it– before you decide to share your personal insanity.

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