PESTICIDE DRIFT; DANGEROUS FOR VIRGINIA SCHOOLS

William (Bill) U. Couzens
The trend for new Virginia pesticide application sites locating themselves next to schools is not only a concern relative to the possibility for agricultural accidents but as the EPA warns “drift”from pesticide applications can and has harmed human health, wildlife, and the environment.

Virginia school communities at risk are currently facing short and long term health consequences for children in school where large scale pesticide/commercial application sites have located themselves next to schools.

In the case of Virginia most all pesticide application sites that have moved next to schools have been vineyards.

The EPA defines pesticide spray drift as the physical movement of a pesticides through air at the time of application or soon thereafter, to any site other than that intended for application often referred to as off target.

When pesticide solutions are sprayed by ground spray equipment or aircraft, droplets are produced by the nozzles of the equipment.

Many of these droplets can be so small that they stay suspended in air and are carried by air currents until they contact a surface or drop to the ground.

A number of factors influence drift, including weather conditions, topography, the crop or area being sprayed, application equipment and methods, and decisions by the applicator.

Off-target spray can and does affect human health and the environment.

For example, spray drift can result in pesticide exposures to farm workers, children playing outside, and wildlife and its habitat.

Drift can also contaminate a home garden or another farmer’s crops, causing illegal pesticide residues and/or plant damage.

The proximity of individuals and sensitive sites to the pesticide application, the amounts of pesticide drift, and toxicity of the pesticide are important factors in determining the potential impacts from drift.

This is especially a concern for parents who children are at risk in schools adjacent to pesticide application sites.