A few weeks ago, California's Department of Pesticide Regulation announced the launch of a new, "first of its kind" air monitoring network designed to look for pesticides drifting into populated areas in the state's fertile agricultural valleys. Weekly samples will be collected over the course of a year in three communities: Shafter, Salinas, and Ripon. Each will be analyzed for 34 pesticides including many neurotoxic insecticides and highly toxic fumigants like methyl iodide. It's an ambitious project, and it's sure to yield a ton of interesting data, yet I just can't get excited about it because: a) PAN's been doing a version of this for years; and b) lack of data isn't the problem at this point.
"Spray drift" is the name given to droplets of pesticides that land anywhere they are not supposed to — like on people's heads, in lakes and streams, or on crops in neighboring fields. It can cause illness, damage crops, and harm ecosystems. And so in 2007 the EPA began trying to figure out how to do better job of keeping it from happening.