Buffer zones: Just common sense | Pesticide Action Network
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Buffer zones: Just common sense

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Living in a lush, forested area sounds pristine and serene, right? Yes, but you may have to grapple with pesticide drift from periodic aerial spraying of herbicides like 2,4-D and atrazine.

Residents of Lane County, Oregon are fed up. They recently organized a rally protesting this long-standing practice, and calling for buffer zones to protect their communities.

The pesticides being sprayed tend to drift on air currents and have been found in the blood and urine of numerous residents who've been tested. Aerial application of herbicides is widespread throughout forested areas of Oregon and other states. Large tracts of forest, however, have been managed successfully for years in the state without the use of  herbicides.

Oregon has enacted buffer zones restricting pesticide use around streams and rivers to protect salmon and endangered species. However, no such buffer zones exist near schools or residences. According to Christina Hubbard from the grassroots group Forest Web:

Really what this is about is creating a reasonable buffer zone for aerial spraying. This is common sense, to protect homes and schools.

In California, 1/4 mile buffer zones around schools were put in place in two of the state's agricultural counties (Tulare and Kern) when local residents documented contamination in school air using PAN’s Drift Catcher.  The communities worked closely with Californians for Pesticide Reform to mount an effective campaign and win the protective buffer zones.

Hazards blowing in the wind

Among the herbicides of concern in Oregon are atrazine and 2,4-D. Atrazine is a hormone disruptor and has been shown to have links to reproductive harm, while the weedkiller 2,4-D has been linked to cancer, lowered sperm counts, birth defects and neurological damage among other serious health harms.

PAN and other groups have been calling upon the EPA to follow independent science on the harms of these pesticides, despite efforts from the pesticide industry to minimize the health risks. 

Dow — one of the Big 6 global pesticide corporations — has been pushing back against attempts to more strictly regulate 2,4-D, and has applied to USDA for approval of a new genetically modified line of corn that would be resistant to the herbicide. Over 70 scientists and health practitioners recently wrote to USDA protesting the proposed new use for this dangerous herbicide.

Kudos to the people of Oregon for calling for common sense protections from pesticide spray.

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spiralmom's picture
spiralmom /
Pesticides from aerial operations can drift up to 20 miles, if not more. The children of Oregon need the aerial applications to just STOP!! a 1 mile buffer zone will do nothing in protecting our health, let alone the environment. If science can prove that a certain distance can be established to be safe from drift, then we can look at buffer zones. The science hasn't done that yet. If Oregon grants a buffer zone, be it 1 mile or 5 miles, the timber industry is still getting away with poisoning the citizens and children of Oregon. Not only that, but then the government will wash it's hands of us and not concern itself with this issue for another 30 some years. I was 11 when Peter DeFazio asked the state of Oregon to grant a moratorium on forestry pesticides, now my son is 11 and we are asking for a moratorium on forestry pesticides. I surely don't want my grandchildren to be 11 and their parents asking for a moratorium on forestry pesticides. Isn't 30 odd years long enough to be poisoning the very earth we live on?? The Natural Resource Adviser to the Governor informed us that the governments hands are tied because of the policy and rules that the timber industry has put into place to protect THEM!! Who is left to protect our children?
DrWilla's picture
DrWilla /
Good to have reconnected to PAN. Lost U in the paper to electronic shift. Regarding all herbicides drifting planet wide - remember that every green growing plant being killed means less O2 being produced for us to breathe, and waay less CO2 being cleared from the atmosphere that is beginning to smother and melt the planet! What is the "carbon cost" of all that drift? And what is the per tree carbon credit for growing trees, instead of killing them with drift? And do you know that the fetal effects of 2,4D's Garlon, RoundUp etc's breakdown products are so toxic that they are used in research labs to create congenital heart disease and congenital diaphragmatic hernias in fetal animals?
AwakeinOregon's picture
AwakeinOregon /
Buffer zones, especially the mile buffer zone recently asked for at the rally in Eugene, is not going to prevent the problems of chemical trespass for the people of Oregon, nor protect our streams or environment. Studies show at minimum drift is two miles, normally far beyond, as mentioned below. A mile buffer is a step that may in fact cost us, also mentioned, for the timber industry would simply continue their practices under such a request. Thus, our air, water and people would continue to be exposed to their poisons. Until Oregon and this investigation can actually analyze the drift situation, how can we assume to know viable buffers? Especially when ignoring what we do know of drift already. Does the timber industry not at least wonder, especially at this juncture, if they may be putting the health of Oregonians and our resources at risk? Years of history, science, the investigation, water samples, all point them in that direction. Yet their profits continue to reign, as does this entity in Oregon. The reality is it is time this State steps up to the plate. As of last Wednesday's meeting, the people of Oregonians are left facing Goliath, alone and without so much as a sling-shot. Since stopping these practices is not on the table, an obvious first step for Oregon or any state for that matter, should be to protect its citizens. Prevention is needed, hence the request by S.T.O.P. for a moratorium. One would think in fact that with the investigation, yet to perform drift studies, prevention would be the very least this state would WANT. Yet, for well over 30 years, citizens have been faced with asking the state to stop this ongoing poisoning? This is so far off the charts one could ask, is this for real? However, the history speaks for itself, and sadly proves this is very real. What is Oregon thinking? One thing has become very clear, Timber is far more important than People. The question from Spiral asks "who will protect our children?" Based on this history and last week’s meeting with the state’s Natural Resource Adviser AND Oregon's Health Authority, Lead for the state’s current Chemical Exposure Investigation: NO ONE !!! They claim at least that Timber has them tied and bound. Yet the state is funding an exposure investigation, with citizens urine positive for timber chemicals, along with four fish bearing streams, and people testifying across the state of illnesses, cancers clusters, miscarriages, sick children, and far more, all related to the timber spraying practices, along with thousands of people asking for a moratorium ~ Yet the state of Oregon says NO, Sorry, we cannot help you, our hands are tied. Time and history will reflect upon all who are allowing this to continue, knowing full well it should have been stopped, years ago. It appears as of last Wednesday we are left with little to nothing, but perhaps a vision of hope; The hope that our Governor or but a SINGLE member of this Investigative Team, might have an epiphany, and take what is now deemed a bold step forward and public. The same afforded our Governor ironically, when he consciously determined he could no longer execute convicted criminals. One person, willing to do the right thing and say enough IS enough. Someone willing to walk the talk, and having the wherewithal to go public with what they know to be true. Similar to what Professor Tyrone Hayes did, when he chose to cross the line, knowing he had to go pubic and speak out regarding his findings as to the hazards posed by none other than Atrazine. Someone willing to be bold enough to admit Oregon has a serious ongoing toxic poisoning issue taking place, due to their timber industry, and toxic chemical practices. Someone willing to say that aside from Oregon's Laws, Ordinances, Rules, Policies and Regulations, this poisoning needs to stop, period. I venture to say if someone were to be so bold, the thousands of citizens seeking this state’s protection for years, would amass in numbers unheard of, in support of that brave soul. Perhaps then, you can sleep at night. Then too if only PAN could offer their drift catcher for Oregonians, to prove the extent of the known Timber Drift. I cannot help but ask, where ARE the many organizations, funded and having the wherewithal to help in this effort? The environmentalists, the healthcare professionals, health organizations, all who speak to and of of the dangers of pesticides and toxic chemicals yet are not coming forth to offer but a sling-shot. Where are you, and why are you not helping us stop the spraying of toxic chemicals into our towns and communities by the timber industry? .
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