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Pesticide Action Network

Concerns raised over pesticides found in California’s air

For Immediate Release: September 23, 2014

Contact: Paul Towers, PAN, 916-216-1082

Concerns over pesticide driftSacramento, CA – After much delay, a new round of air sampling data released by state officials earlier today shows that hazardous pesticides continue to be found in the air of the state’s agricultural regions.

Fumigant pesticides, especially cancer-causing MITC (parent compound: metam-sodium), 1,3-D (trade name: Telone), as well as the neurotoxic organophosphate chlorpyrifos were found in the air at sampling sites in Ripon (San Joaquin County), Salinas (Monterey County) and Shafter (Kern County).

PAN and other health and safety groups have critiqued the monitoring for the past two years for the lack of a robust and comprehensive sampling plan.

Emily Marquez, PhD, staff scientist for Pesticide Action Network released the following statement:

"Despite shortcomings in the sampling plan, the new air monitoring evidence points to problems with drift from hazardous pesticides, including the neurotoxic chlorpyrifos. These results should spur officials to take further action to protect frontline communities from volatile and drift-prone pesticides.

Thirty percent or more of the air samples had detections of the fumigant MITC as well as the insecticide chlorpyrifos. Even with a non-targeted sampling approach, MITC was found in almost 1-in-3 air samples taken throughout the year. And in Shafter, chlorpyrifos was found in 75% of the air samples.

At these documented levels regulators should be concerned. While chlorpyrifos did not exceed California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation’s screening levels, the amounts of chlorpyrifos detected in the air may have greater consequences for residents exposed to low levels of chlorpyrifos drift. Even in very small amounts, chlorpyrifos has been shown to have adverse effects on neurodevelopment and has been linked to changes in the architecture of the brain and a decrease in IQ in children.

DPR is downplaying the results as it evaluates further action on chlorpyrifos this fall. The results from this field study provide additional evidence that the potential for drift can’t be controlled and that chlorpyrifos should be phased out from California’s agricultural fields.

For the past two years PAN has pointed to the problems of a sampling plan that fails to focus on periods of peak use, sampling sites located too far from points of application, and sites that are too few in number. The results continue to point to the need for a more comprehensive and robust air monitoring program to help protect the health of Californians.”


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Pesticide Action Network

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