Ad­vo­cates: New pes­ti­cide reg­u­la­tions are not enough PUB­LIC SAFETY

Some have is­sue with part-time buf­fer

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Al­though the Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Pes­ti­cide Reg­u­la­tion (DPR) has adopted new rules to fur­ther pro­tect young stu­dents from pes­ti­cide ex­po­sure, An­gel Gar­cia, and other peo­ple, feel it is not enough.

“Much more is needed to en­sure ad­e­quate pro­tec­tion for chil­dren’s health,” said Gar­cia, a Tu­lare County com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer.

DPR’S new reg­u­la­tion, which was is­sued last week, pro­hibits pes­ti­cides from be­ing ap­plied by cer­tain drift-prone meth­ods within a quar­ter mile of schools and day cares on schools days. Gar­cia said even though the rule rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward, he, as well as many other Tu­lare County res­i­dents, be­lieve that the rule fails to ad­dress near-constant low-level daily ex­po­sures, which a host of re­cent stud­ies have shown cause se­vere long-term health im­pacts, in­clud­ing autism, IQ loss and cancer.

Gar­cia said the new mea­sure also doesn’t ad­dress the on­go­ing racial dis­par­ity in im­pact, with Latino schoolchildren in Cal­i­for­nia nearly twice (91 per­cent) as likely to at­tend the most im­pacted schools as their white peers.

Lety Lopez of Tu­lare County Coali­tion Ad­vo­cat­ing for Pes­ti­cide Safety, said it is in­cred­i­bly dis­ap­point­ing that the reg­u­la­tion does noth­ing to rem­edy the un­fair pes­ti­cide bur­den on Latino chil­dren.

“All chil­dren de­serve a healthy en­vi­ron­ment, re­gard­less of race or place,” Lopez said.

As far as shield­ing those vul­ner­a­ble to the ef­fects of pes­ti­cide ap­pli­ca­tions, Gar­cia said the new, part-time buf­fer won’t pro­vide any pro­tec­tion for kids en­gaged in af­ter-school and week­end ac­tiv­i­ties and doesn’t ac­count for the fact that many pes­ti­cides linger long af­ter they are ap­plied.

Gar­cia said a 2014 Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health (DPH) re­port on pes­ti­cide use near schools noted that eight of the 10 haz­ardous pes­ti­cides most com­monly used near schools per­sist in the air for days or even weeks.

“Pes­ti­cides don’t stop drift­ing af­ter the kids board the busses home,” said Sal Cazarez, a high school teacher from Visalia. “A part-time buf­fer zone gives only par­tial pro­tec­tion.”

Gar­cia said al­though the part­time quar­ter mile buf­fer zone pro­vided by the reg­u­la­tion is an im­prove­ment over the ex­ist­ing patch­work of county re­stric­tions, com­mu­nity lead­ers and sci­en­tists point to re­cent in­ci­dents as ev­i­dence that a big­ger buf­fer zone is needed.

“In May, dozens of work­ers in Kern County were af­fected by the brain-harm­ing pes­ti­cide chlor­pyri­fos, which drifted more than half a mile from the ap­pli­ca­tion site,” Gar­cia said, adding that the in­ci­dent in Kern re­flects mount­ing sci­en­tific ev­i­dence re­gard­ing drift dis­tance. “In one study by state and fed­eral health de­part­ments, a one­mile buf­fer would have pre­vented 85 per­cent of acute ex­po­sure ill­nesses, while only 24 per­cent of non-work drift ill­nesses oc­curred at dis­tances of a quar­ter mile or less.”

Gar­cia noted that a UC Davis MIND In­sti­tute study doc­u­mented sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased rates of autism in chil­dren of moth­ers who lived up to one mile from fields. He said the UC Berke­ley CHAMACOS study of farm­worker fam­i­lies in Sali­nas found con­tam­i­na­tion from the neu­ro­toxic in­sec­ti­cide chlor­pyri­fos in homes up to 1.8 miles from treated fields. He added that the Cal­i­for­nia Childhood Leukemia Study re­ported el­e­vated con­cen­tra­tions of sev­eral pes­ti­cides in the dust of homes up to three-fourths of a mile from treated fields.

In ad­di­tion to need­ing a larger buf­fer zone, Gar­cia said he be­lieves the chronic ex­po­sure of pes­ti­cide use is also be­ing ig­nored.

“The reg­u­la­tion’s fail­ure to ad­dress chronic im­pacts of re­peated lowlevel pes­ti­cide ex­po­sure

was tele­graphed at a March hear­ing con­vened by the Se­nate En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity Com­mit­tee by se­nior DPR staffer Randy Se­gawa, who tes­ti­fied that the reg­u­la­tion is not de­signed to re­duce ex­po­sure,” Gar­cia said, adding, “This came as shocking news to en­vi­ron­men­tal health ad­vo­cates who have long fought for a reg­u­la­tion that would do ex­actly that.”

Gar­cia said DPR’S air mon­i­tor­ing data for 2016 con­firmed that pes­ti­cides are present in the air through­out Cal­i­for­nia’s agri­cul­tural re­gions. Air sam­ples col­lected at DPR’S mon­i­tor­ing sta­tion at Shafter High School in Kern County re­vealed lev­els of chlor­pyri­fos that were 18 times higher than the U.S. EPA’S level of con­cern for preg­nant women.

He added that the car­cino­genic fu­mi­gant Telone was also mea­sured at con­cen­tra­tions above the Of­fice of En­vi­ron­men­tal Health Hazard As­sess­ment’s rec­om­mended level

for life­time cancer risk (0.10 parts per bil­lion) at the state’s three school air mon­i­tor­ing sites at Shafter High (Kern), Rio Mesa High (Ven­tura), and Ohlone El­e­men­tary (North­ern Mon­terey County) over the last five years.

“We know re­peated ex­po­sures to even small amounts of pes­ti­cides con­trib­ute to sig­nif­i­cant and per­ma­nent health prob­lems, in­clud­ing cancer, neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­ease, res­pi­ra­tory im­pacts, and birth de­fects,” said Nayamin Martinez, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cen­tral Coast En­vi­ron­men­tal Jus­tice Net­work. “How can DPR ig­nore these chronic ef­fects of pes­ti­cide ex­po­sure on school kids?”

Gar­cia said when the reg­u­la­tion was first an­nounced last fall in draft form, it in­cluded a re­quire­ment that grow­ers give schools 48-hour no­tice of any pes­ti­cide use planned within a quar­ter mile. How­ever, under in­tense pres­sure from

lob­by­ists from the agri­cul­ture and pes­ti­cide in­dus­tries, Gar­cia said this re­quire­ment was axed from the fi­nal draft, leav­ing only the re­quire­ment to pro­vide gen­eral no­tice to schools of any pes­ti­cides that may be used in the com­ing year.

“For too long, in­for­ma­tion that res­i­dents need to pro­tect them­selves and their fam­i­lies has been all but im­pos­si­ble to ob­tain,” Gar­cia said. “For com­mu­nity mem­bers, no­ti­fi­ca­tion is an in­te­gral com­po­nent that can­not be left out of the reg­u­la­tion.”

Mar­garet Reeves, PH.D., se­nior sci­en­tist with Pes­ti­cide Ac­tion Net­work, said pol­i­cy­mak­ers need to pro­vide sup­port and train­ing for farm­ers to tran­si­tion to safer farm­ing meth­ods that don’t harm kids.

“We urge state of­fi­cials, par­tic­u­larly DPR, the De­part­ment of Food and Agri­cul­ture and the Gov­er­nor to make the nec­es­sary in­vest­ments in the fu­ture of Cal­i­for­nia agri­cul­ture,” Reeves said.

AP PHOTO BY GARY KAZANJIAN

In this 2001 file photo, a crop dust­ing plane from Blair Air Ser­vice dusts cot­ton crops in Le­moore.

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