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Daily News Archive
From March 29, 2002

EPA Proposes Label Changes to Address Pesticide Drift, Misses Several Key Issues

Geraldine Perron, a farmer in Kelvington, Saskatchewan, sent us this photo, taken four years ago, of a neighbor's crop duster applying pesticides on grains adjacent to her property. The pesticides would often drift, making her sick both physically and emotionally. In recent years, things have turned for the better. Because grain prices have dropped and crop dusting is expensive, her neighbor hasn't been using his plane. Without the drifting pesticides, she has been able to certify her cattle pastures as organic.

Pesticide drift, the movement of pesticide particles or droplets during or after a pesticide application, is a serious problem almost anywhere pesticides are applied. To address this problem, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently proposed label changes to all pesticide products that are registered for use outdoors, excluding fumigants and pesticides used soley for public health applications.

While environmentalists view the label changes as an important first step, to truly protect public health, more steps must be taken. Currently, EPA's definition of drift only includes particles that move from their target during or immediately following application. It ignores some of the most important sources of drift, such as pesticide evaporation and pesticide-coated dust particles. Because drift is inevitable, EPA should ban carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, reproductive toxins, developmental toxins, neurotoxins and pesticides listed by EPA as a toxicity category I or II. Problematic spray technologies, such as crop dusting should also be banned. EPA should require buffer zones around all sensitive areas, including schools, homes, hospitals and other public space. Notification to nearby residents should also be reqired so that exposure can be avoided.

Beyond Pesticides submitted comments to EPA on the pesticide drift label changes. The comments tell the stories of victims of pesticide drift that have contacted Beyond Pesticides and lays out recommendations to minimize and eliminate public exposure. Comment period closes March 31, 2002. For more information, see the Pesticide Reregistration notice. Read Beyond Pesticides' drift comments.