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Tell EPA to Minimize the Impact of Pesticide Drift, Comment by March 5

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2010) To protect humans and the environment from the drift of pesticide spray and dust the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new labeling guidelines last November and is seeking public comments. The Draft Guidance for Pesticide Registrants on Pesticide Drift Labeling is intended to provide clearer, more consistent and enforceable directions. EPA’s current pesticide label requirement, which instructs the user to avoid drift, is widely considered unenforceable and inadequate.

Pesticides drift is a major threat to those living near agricultural areas, as wind and rain can carry these chemicals miles from the application site. A National Cancer Institute study shows that pregnant women living within 9 miles of farms where pesticides are used have an increased risk of losing an unborn baby to birth defects. Another study finds that children living near agricultural areas have twice the risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

When pest management strategies rely on spray and dust pesticide application, drift is inevitable. Aerial pesticide application is of greatest concern, where an estimated 40% of pesticides used are lost to drift. Despite this inefficiency the aerial application of pesticides. especially fungicides, is actually increasing.

EPA’s labeling guidelines were introduced a month after Earth Justice and Farmworker Justice along with several other concerned groups filed a petition to set safety standards that protect children living near agricultural fields. The Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 requires EPA to protect infants and children from pesticide exposure. EPA has acknowledged that children are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of pesticides, and as a result phased out the residential use of several pesticides. Unfortunately EPA neglected to consider exposure resulting from drift. The petition asks EPA to reduce neurotoxic pesticide exposure by instituting buffer zones around schools, homes, and other areas where children are likely to spend time.

EPA is currently working on a Drift Reduction Technology program to encourage the agrichemical industry to develop and implement new technologies that may reduce drift. Advocates say this program alone is inadequate, since numerous practices already exist for reducing pesticide drift, are at times not implemented, because the pesticide applicator is unaware of or chooses to ignore them. Moreover, they cite transcontinental drift and community-wide drift and movement of volatilized pesticides associated with chemical-intensive farming operations.

The draft guidelines contain:

1. A general drift statement that varies according to product type. The general drift statement prohibits drift that could cause an adverse effect to people or any other non-target organism or site.

2. Examples of risk-based, product-specific drift use restrictions, along with formats for presenting these statements on product labeling. On a pesticide-by-pesticide basis, based on individual product use patterns, EPA will evaluate scientific information on risk and exposure from pesticide drift. These assessments will help the agency determine whether product-specific use restrictions are needed to protect people, wildlife, water resources, schools, or other sensitive sites from potential harm. These restrictions could include no-spray buffer zones, or requirements related to droplet or particle size, nozzle height, or weather conditions at the time of application.

3. Guidance to applicants and registrants about the process for implementing the new statements and formats on product labeling.

The agency believes the use of these statements and formats on labels will provide users with more consistent, understandable, and enforceable directions about how to protect human health and the environment from harm that might result from off-target pesticide drift.

You can take action and tell EPA you support these efforts as a first step to protect people, especially children and the environment from the dangers of pesticide drift! Click here to sign the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA) petition Protect Rural Kids from Pesticide Drift. However, if you are able, send individual comments to have an even greater impact on the process. To submit comments directly to EPA at www.regulations.gov docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0825. Hurry, the deadline is March 5!


6 Responses to “Tell EPA to Minimize the Impact of Pesticide Drift, Comment by March 5”

  1. 1
    Phyl Morello Says:

    Will you PLEASE help stop the overuse of pesticides in our America?????????????

  2. 2
    Jessica Turrin Says:

    I support all of EPA’s efforts to reduce the amount of pesticides used in farming in order to protect the health, saftey and welfare of those that live adjacent to these areas and for the sustainable future of our agrigultural and food systems.

  3. 3
    James Royal Says:

    I live in Needham, MA. My abutting neighbors use pesticides like they are using flour in a cake. I have two young children. 100’s of children walk on sidewalks past my house to school each day laden with visible pesticide granules. I have links to 100’s of studies that strongly indicate that pesticides cause or trigger autism, ADHD, Parkinson’s, diabetes, asthma etc etc. These ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS are destroying our DNA in-utero, during critical development and later on by the sheer body burden of these chemicals. Look at the data and you will find that suburbs that have green lawns and huge parks, golf courses treated chemically have more MS, diabetes etc. etc. While the rest of the world is banning these poisons you folks are engaging in a fiendish experiment that will ultimately destroy the human genome.
    PLEASE BAN OR PUT A MORATORIUM ON ALL PESTICIDES linked to these diseases before its too late.

  4. 4
    Dr. S. Edward Law / Univ.of GA Says:

    What impedes US agriculture from more widely implementing decade-old improved spray-application technology which permits HALVING of pesticide active ingredients dispensed into ecosystem with proportional reduction in off-target drift? For issues raised with EPA see public comment/video from University of Georgia on website http://www.regulations.gov under ID No. EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0628-039.

  5. 5
    Erin Thomas Says:

    So long as the American people continue to blindly purchase pesticide laden foods, farmers will continue to use the pesticides in the manner that has the lowest fiscal impact. As the daughter of a non-organic farmer, and a person that only purchases Organic foods, I am fully aware of the double edged sword that farmers face. People want clean cheap food, but they can either have clean food or cheap food but not both. It takes more manpower to farm without chemicals, and manpower is one of the most expensive components of farming. If you don’t like pesticides in your food, don’t buy food with pesticides in it. If you don’t want to be sprayed with pesticides, PROTEST IT! Pesticides require farmers to get permits to spray, find out what permits have been applied for in your area. AVOID these areas, if that requires that your children miss school than so be it. Safety first, You are responsible for your own destiny. If enough kids miss school for Pesticide days then the schools will take notice. PS does anyone else notice that there was not one peep out of the news about these requlations? What good is the news anymore? They only tell me who robbed the local Rob and Run..Tell me what the long term impact of that is?

  6. 6
    linda weiss Says:

    Please stop the spread of pesticide induced NCDs. I was poisoned when a neighbor’s lawn chemicals drifted on to my property in 1985 and I’ve paid for it ever since by being disabled. The World Health Organization is now seeking to prevent NCDs from using so much of our dollars for hospitilizations, pesticide-induced Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancers and all other forms of NCDs, so now is an ideal time to stop the lawncare pesticides and switch to IPM management. I lost my human right to breathe clean air ever since the poisoning, and its forty years already, and every neighbor for blocks has a spray truck pull up. I’ve logged 400 applications to lawns around me with as many as 25 homes a day, get applications + all the trees in the yards. Tomorrow, 5 doors away, they are going to spray the entire outside of a two story home and their lawn for imaginary bugs in case there should be any around. This is insanity, and I have no place to hide. Please stop the sprays a.s.a.p.—it’s the only humane thing to do.

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