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State Agency Criticized for Failing to Protect Highest At-Risk Communities

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, May 24, 2018) California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is falling short of protecting vulnerable communities in the state, especially low-income and communities of color. This, according to a new report by California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), which assesses state agencies on eight environmental justice principles. The poor showing by DPR comes at the forefront of reports that the state’s pesticide use has increased, nearing record highs. The findings are from California Environmental Justice Alliance’s (CEJA) 2017 Environmental Justice Agency Assessment, which provides full assessments of nine key agencies in the state including, California Air Resources Board, Department of Pesticide Regulation, and the Department of Toxic Substances Control, and lists an additional six agencies to monitor. The assessment gave the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) poor grades for its persistent failure to prioritize community health over industry profits. The agencies were judged on eight environmental justice principles, with a score of good, fair or poor for each. DPR’s scores were evenly divided between “fair” and “poor.” Specifically, the report concludes, “Many state agencies are not successfully integrating [environmental justice] into their decision-making. Overall, many state agencies still make decisions that actively harm [environmental justice] communities and fail to […]

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Two Hundred Million Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Used in California, According to 2016 Annual Data

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, May 22, 2018)  A staggering 209 million pounds of pesticides were used in California in 2016, according to the latest data released by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). This figure refers only to applied “active” pesticide ingredients and not “inerts,” which often account for 80 to 99 percent of pesticide products and can be equally hazardous to human health and the environment. Even though pesticide use in the state has dropped by 1.4 percent from the previous year, pesticide use in 2016 was still the third highest in recorded history, since the inception of DPR’s comprehensive data collection program in 1990. In fact, the total pesticide use was only six million pounds shy of the highest amount ever recorded – 215 million pounds in 1998. The land area treated with carcinogens is as large as the size of New Jersey and Connecticut combined. Nearly 102 million cumulative acres of land were treated with pesticides in the state, ranging in toxicity from low to high risk. Each time an acre is pesticide-treated in a given year, DPR adds the acre to its cumulative list, even if the treatment is repeated on the same land. The 2016 figure represents an […]

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Chemical Companies Knowingly Allowed Carcinogenic Contaminant in Common Pesticide

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2017) Multinational chemical companies Dow Chemical Company and Shell Chemical Company knowingly sold and marketed fumigants contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical that had a strong propensity to leach into and remain in groundwater, according to a recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and a lawsuit against the companies. The contaminant of concern, 1,2,3-trichloropropene (TCP), was a manufacturing by-product found in Dow’s Telone and Shell’s D-D fumigant pesticide products with the active ingredient 1,3-Dichloropropene. The products, used to kill soil-dwelling nematodes, are toxic in their own right, but contained TCP in their formulation from the 1940s until the mid-1980s. EWG’s report details widespread contamination of drinking water in California’s agricultural regions, with detections found in 562 wells, and 94 public water systems identifying TCP above legal limits. Thirty-seven additional public water systems serving nearly 4 million U.S. residents throughout the country were also found to contain TCP. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never set maximum contaminant levels for TCP in drinking water, but requires public reporting above the infinitesimally small amount of 30 parts per trillion, roughly six times higher than what the state of California requires. However, even proposed limits of 5 parts per trillion […]

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California Regulators Sued for Allowing Increased Use of Toxic Fumigant without Public Input

Monday, February 6th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 6, 2017) California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) rules that allow greater use of the highly toxic fumigant Telone, while decreasing protections for the public, have been challenged in California court. On January 31, attorneys representing Juana Vasquez, a farmworker in Ventura County, along with Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), filed suit in the Superior Court of California against the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR). The suit claims that CDPR failed to follow required public procedures in developing new rules for 1,3-Dicholopropene (1,3-D), which is an active ingredient in the product Telone and has many documented health risks, including cancer and kidney and liver damage. In October 2016, CDPR released new rules that allow the continued use of Telone and decrease protections for public health by permitting increased usage. CDPR and many news outlets reported the rule change as a tightening of the restrictions, but in reality, the new rules increase the previous annual cap from 90,250 pounds to 136,000 pounds per township, a defined area of 6Ă—6 miles. These new rules went into effect on January 1, 2017, allowing for 1,3-D’s continued use in strawberry fields, vineyards, almond […]

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California Regulators Allow an Increase in Toxic Fumigant Use, Failing to Protect Public and Farmworker Health

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2016) Last week, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) released new rules that allow for continued use of the toxic fumigant Telone and reduce public health protection by permitting increased usage. One of the active ingredients in the product Telone,  1,3-Dicholorpropene (1,3-D), has many documented health risks, including cancer and kidney and liver damage. While CDPR and many news outlets reported the rule change as a tightening of the restrictions, the new rules effectively increase the previous annual cap from 90,250 pounds to 136,000 pounds per township, a defined area of 6×6 miles. According to CDPR documents, the primary revisions include: increasing the annual limit to 136,000 pounds within each pesticide township, eliminating “rollover” of unused pesticide allotments from prior years, and banning use of Telone in December, when weather conditions are especially problematic for air pollution. These new rules, which go into effect January 1, will allow for 1,3-D’s continued use in strawberry fields, vineyards, almond orchards, and other crops around California. CDPR has been characterizing  its changes in management of 1,3-D as increasingly protective of public health in the state. In making these revisions to the rules, CDPR completed an updated risk assessment […]

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California Tightens Pesticide Limits on Strawberries and Other Crops

Friday, January 16th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2015) The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) announced Wednesday that it is implementing the country’s strictest limits on chloropicrin, a chemical injected into the soil where strawberries, raspberries, almonds, and other crops are grown. The soil fumigant has been linked to a litany of health effects, such as respiratory ailments, skin irritation, and headaches, due to exposure to drift in surrounding areas over recent years. The new rules set up wider buffer zones of up to 100 feet around fields where the pesticide is applied. Growers will be restricted to fumigating 40 acres a day unless they use stronger tarps to prevent pesticide drift. Growers are also required to give the state 48 hours notice before fumigating and notify surrounding homes and businesses in Spanish and English. Chloropicrin is used to control soil pathogens, nematodes, and certain weeds, and can be used alone or in combination with another fumigant, either 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D) or methyl bromide, both of which have also been shown to be toxic to human health and potent environmental contaminants. The new chloropicrin restrictions are timely; a 2011 report found that pesticide use rose in 2010 after a four-year decline. The pesticides with […]

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California Strawberry Production Thrives as Regulators Allow Elevated Hazards

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2014) In an investigative report, Dark Side of the Strawberry, Center for Investigative Reporting provides a sordid story and analysis of  the rise of one of California’s most prized crops, strawberries, while state  regulators  ignored public health and environmental risks associated with the pesticides used in their production. The report focuses on a pesticide called 1,3-Dichloropropene (1,3-D), a restricted use soil  fumigant used to kill nematodes, insects, and weeds, that has strong links to cancer and other serious health issues. The use of the chemical in the production of strawberries came into prominence with the forced reduction of another fumigant, methyl bromide. As the report chronicles, besides the many other issues associated with methyl bromide, scientists began to become concerned sometime in 1970s that escaped methyl bromide gas had serious effects on the ozone and was blamed for between 5 and 10 percent of ozone depletion. With the signing of Montreal Protocol in 1987, a treaty that President Reagan signed on behalf of the U.S., methyl bromide became the only pesticide to be banned by treaty, a ban meant to be in full effect by 2005. While the European Union and other industrialized nations followed through […]

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Report Finds Numerous Schools Near Toxic Pesticide Fields

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2014) A new report from the California Department of Public Health finds 36 percent of public schools in the state have pesticides of public health concern applied within a quarter mile of the school. Persistent and toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos, methyl bromide, and malathion are among the pesticides found to be applied near schools. The report also finds that Latino children are also more likely to attend schools near areas with the highest use of pesticides of concern. The report, “Agricultural Pesticide Use near Public Schools In California,” released this month, looked at 2,511 schools in the 15 California counties with the highest overall use of farm pesticides in California for 2010, and finds that counties in the southern part of the Central Valley had the most schools near farms where pesticides were applied. Fresno County had the highest number of schools —131 — with pesticides applied nearby. Five percent of schools are within a quarter mile of where the highest volumes of pesticides are used: 2,635—28,979 pounds of active ingredient. Latino children are 46 percent more likely than white children to attend schools where pesticides of concern were applied nearby. The report’s findings are being […]

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Pesticide Use in California Increases after Four-Year Decline

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2012) Pesticide use in California rose in 2010 after declining for four consecutive years, according to data released by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). More than 173 million pounds of pesticides were reported applied statewide, an increase of nearly 15 million pounds — or 9.5 percent — from 2009. Overall, most of the growth in pesticide use was in production agriculture, where applications increased by 12 million pounds. California’s DPR, which has the most extensive pesticide use reporting system in the United States and oversees one of the most comprehensive pesticide regulatory programs in the world, published its pesticide usage data for the state last week. Along with increases in agricultural pesticide use which reflects a 15 percent jump in acres treated with pesticides, post-harvest treatments went up by 657,000 pounds, structural pest control by 760,000 and landscape maintenance by 374,000 pounds. Reports are mandatory for agricultural and pest control business applications, while most home, industrial and institutional uses are exempt. Pesticides with the greatest increase include 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D). commonly known as Telone, a fumigant whose use went up by 2.4 million pounds, or 37 percent. It is used on strawberries, almonds, sweet potatoes, carrots, […]

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California’s Pesticide Use Declined Again, Yet Millions of Toxic Pesticides Continue To Be Used

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2010) Pesticide use declined in California for a fourth consecutive year in 2009 according to the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), yet despite the viability of organic agriculture, millions of pounds of highly toxic pesticides continue to be used unnecessarily throughout the state. The Summary of Pesticide Use Report Data 2009 estimates that approximately 162 million pounds of reported pesticides were applied statewide, a decrease of nearly 8 million pounds or 5 percent from 2008. Pesticide use in production agriculture fell by 5.1 million pounds and in most other categories as well, including post-harvest treatments, structural pest control and landscape maintenance. Reports are mandatory for agricultural and pest control business application, however most home, industrial and institutional uses are exempt. California also leads with the most certified organic cropland, with over 430,000 acres, largely used for fruit and vegetable production according to updated data posted by USDA and an averaged 15 percent certified organic cropland acreage annual growth between 2002 and 2008. DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam emphasized that pesticide use varies from year to year depending on a number of factors, including weather, pest problems, economics and types of crops planted. Increases and decreases in […]

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Oregon Suspends Pesticide Use Reporting After 2008 Data

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, July 22, 2009) The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) recently released statistics for statewide pesticide use in 2008, while at the same time announcing the suspension of the reporting system, which has only been collecting data since 2007. The Pesticide Use Reporting System (PURS) was suspended until 2013 by House Bill 2999, due to lack of funding. The $800,000 saved will instead be used to fund two investigator positions. Until its reinstatement, officials will be unable to collect data or pursue enforcement related to missing reports from earlier in 2009. The 2008 PURS report documents agricultural and household pesticide use, which totaled almost 20,000 pounds and 572 different active ingredients. The top five active ingredients, by pounds, were all used in agriculture: metam sodium, glyphosate, 1,3-dichloropropene, sulfuric acid, and aliphatic petroleum hydrocarbons. Agriculture totaled 77 percent of all pesticide use, with urban/general indoor and outdoor uses totaling under four percent. The total used dropped by half from 2007, due in part to improved record keeping and a decline in the use of metam sodium, a popular fumigant in potato production. In households, pesticide use may be shifting away from the most toxic products. “In 2007, everyone was just […]

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