Pesticide Use Near Schools Raises Concerns

Source: Kostic Dusan - 123RF

Strawberry growers using the pesticide 1,3-Dichloropropene in the Rio Mesa High School campus region may face further restrictions in the use of the carcinogenic fumigant. The Ventura County Board of Supervisors met Director of the State Department of Pesticide Regulation, Brian Leahy, on Tuesday to discuss concerns about the use of a carcinogenic fumigant in close proximity to Rio Mesa students.

At issue were a delay of 18 months it took for results of air testing and the state’s decision to grant exemptions from the 90,250-pound/square mile quantity limitations placed on the use of 1,3-D, allowing growers to “bank” unused pesticide for the next season. Additionally, the state granted some growers waivers to use more pesticides after exhausting banked fumigant. These exemptions were ceased early last year.

According to air testing results, measurements for the pesticide exceeded state limits of 0.14 parts per billion (ppb) by a small margin in 2012 and 2013. The agency claims it would take 70 years of exposure above the state limit to increase the risk of cancer. In 2014 the quantity measured was 0.09.

The board requested a written pledge to end pesticide banking and waivers. The board also expressed concerns about the poor communication from state officials, noting better communication could remove community fears and build trust. While Leahy defended the current legislation as complex but effective, the state department is holding meetings across the state as it prepares to construct regulation for the use of pesticides in close proximity to schools.