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Daily News Archive
From November 22, 2005                                                                                                           

Proposed Limit on Pesticide Exposure Being Considered
(Beyond Pesticides, November 22, 2005) A new rule to reduce the likelihood of pesticide exposure to children, the elderly and the sick is under currently under review by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. In a story reported by The Olympian, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and state-licensed adult- or child-care centers would receive 48-hour advance notice of aerial spraying, a ground application called air blasting or outside fumigation involving potent pesticides used next to or within one half of a mile of the protected sites.

The goal of the proposed rule is to reduce the likelihood of exposure to these chemicals from pesticide drift, and in particular protect children and other sensitive populations in farm communities. This summer a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association documented student and school employee poisoning by pesticide use at schools (see press release).

According to The Olympian, Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Valoria Loveland is expected to rule on the proposal on November 29, 2005. If accepted, the proposed rule would take effect January 1, 2006.

At a hearing held last week, The League of Women Voters, education officials, environmental groups and Olympia residents supported the rule but said it didn't go far enough. The Olympian reported, "The proposed rule is a good first step," said Elizabeth Davis of the League of Women Voters of Washington, but notification should be extended to all children and adults who live, work and play near pesticide spray zones, and apply to a broader range of pesticides, she said.

Angela Storey of the Washington Toxics Coalition said, “The state agency should also institute no-spray buffer zones and air monitoring.” Storey also recommended restrictions on the use of drift-prone pesticides and drift-prone equipment and expansion of the list of pesticides covered by the rule.

Frank Lyall, a Yakima Valley fruit tree grower feels if approved, the ruling would be devastating to small family farms in Eastern Washington. He said the rule would make it harder for the small farms to stay in business, since they are the ones most often closest to the community centers. Lyall said, "It's an egregious, unnecessary regulation, a regulation that is far out in front of the science."

"It's already illegal to allow pesticides to drift," said Heather Hansen, executive director of Olympia-based Washington Friends of Farms and Forests. Hansen feels "If there's a problem, enforce the existing laws."

Olympia area resident Rob Kavanaugh feels the agriculture department needs to do a better job of supporting its pesticide inspectors to enforce the laws. According to Hansen most farmers already notify their neighbors when they plan to spray, an assertion echoed by Matawa orchardist Charles Lyall. "I inform my neighbors, if I'm going to spray," Lyall said, adding he sprays pesticides on his orchard some 80 to 100 times a year. About 20 of those pesticide applications could fall under the purview of the proposed rule.