A helicopter applies chemicals in a field west of Fresno. File Photo
Written by David Castellon
Farmers across California will have new rules to comply with starting next year if they use pesticides near schools.
Among those new rules is a prohibition on pesticide applications occurring within a quarter mile of any K-12 schools and licensed daycare centers during the hours when they’re operating, states a press release issued by the California Department of Pesticide Regulations.
“This includes all applications by aircraft, sprinklers, air-blast sprayers and all fumigant applications. In addition, most dust and powder pesticide applications, such as sulfur, will also be prohibited during this time,” the release continues.
Although California has strict regulations governing the use of pesticides, population growth has created a growing number of situations in which schools and daycare facilities are located near or directly adjacent to working farms, increasing the potential for unintended pesticide exposures for children and adults, DPR officials report.
Many California counties have adopted local rules related to pesticide applications near schools and day-care centers, but the state didn’t have an across-the-board standard. The new regulation, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2018, is expected to affect about 4,100 public K-12 schools and licensed child day-care facilities and approximately 2,500 growers in California, the agency reports.
“These rules will help to further protect the health of children, teachers and school staff from unintended pesticide exposure,” Brian Leahy, DPR’s director, said in the press release. “They build on our existing strict regulations and give an additional layer of protection that is now consistent across the state.”
The rule changes also require farmers to provide annual notifications to schools and daycare facilities on the pesticides expected to be used near them in the upcoming year. County agricultural commissioners also must be notified.
“By providing more information on nearby pesticide applications and increasing communication, the new rules are expected to help schools and daycare centers in responding to potential incidents and inquiries from parents,” DPR’s press release states.
It also allows schools, farmers and county agricultural commissioners to devise alternative application restrictions that provide an equal or greater level of protection than those provided by the new regulation, it continues.
Details on the regulation changes and related documents can be found online at http://bit.ly/2gcxQ4P.