Advocates call for stricter change on Department of Pesticide Regulation’s policy for schools

Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability (Leadership Counsel) commented on the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR)’s policy for pesticide application near schools. DPR’s new draft regulation would require that agriculture growers notify schools and day care centers when companies plan to spray pesticides in the area and prohibit the application during schools site sessions. The policy also would create 1/4 mile protection zone during school hours and also includes provisions on application methods.

For many communities who live near agriculture hubs, pesticide usage is a major public health concern. Earlier this year, UCLA conducted a study of the effects of pesticide and concluded that exposure can lead to serious health issues including forms of cancer. Adequate protection, or “buffer” zones is critical to ensure the safety of the communities who live near grower facilities.

For example, the agriculture industry plays a major role as an economic stimulator for Coachella Valley. Eastern Coachella Valley residents face many health disparities as a result of living in proximity to agriculture fields. In February 2016, the agriculture commissioner fined a local grower $5,000 as a result of an investigation into cases of exposure from students of Coachella Valley High School. Students and staff reported many health problems and the school was even closed during that period of time. Furthermore, CalEnviroScreen data shows the census tract of Coachella Valley high school has a troubling pesticide score of 96. Stricter policy restrictions from the statewide level are necessary to address local concerns, such as in the case of Coachella Valley High School.

Pesticide residual drift is both an environmental justice and active transportation hazard. Many of Coachella Valley students depend on active transportation methods such as walking and biking in order to get school. DPR’s current proposal calls for 1/4 buffer zone for application with restrictions enforced during schools hours. The proposed regulation does not adequately or effectively address distances for students who walk and bike to school nor does it address community/school events after hours. Instead, the Partnership and Leadership Counsel call for a 1-mile buffer zone that is enforced 24 hours a day. Californians for Pesticide Reform also submitted a coalition letter with similar policy recommendations. For more information on our policy recommendations, please access our letter here.

Colorlines also released commentary on the issue, which can be found here. You can read more about the DPR’s policy on their website located here including a highlighted fact sheet. DPR conducted three public workshops in Oxnard, Tulare and Salinas during the month of December. Comments for the draft regulations ended Friday, December 9th, 2016.

2 Responses to Advocates call for stricter change on Department of Pesticide Regulation’s policy for schools

  1. debhub says:

    Hey everyone,

    I am deeply inspired to see this safe routes post. This issue has been close to my heart for many many years, especially during my short time with the regional water quality control board.

    I really appreciate you stepping out above and beyond dangers focused on roadway and surrounding transportation issues again. I often found it tough working in, more or less, single issues areas (like w mcbc , etc.) with the understanding that all things in this world are so interconnected- but alas we all can’t be working on all issues all of the time.

    I deeply commend you for stepping out on this issue. I can feel our dear Deb with a grand divine smile shining down on us! Thank you so much for your courage, wisdom and vision!

    Big love to you all,

    Andy

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Thank you for the warm words, Andy. We agree, this issue is so important. Environmental justice concerns and active transportation hazards are interconnected. We look forward to ways in which we can work with environmental justice partners and create more safe and sustainable communities. Thank you for your continued support and we will keep you engaged as this issue develops. So grateful for Deb’s leadership and her continued legacy for working across transportation and environmental issues. Blessings to you, Andy!!

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