California Limits Pesticide Use Near Schools

California Limits Pesticide Use Near Schools

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has adopted new rules to further protect young students from pesticide exposure. The rules, which take effect on Jan. 1, regulate the use of agricultural pesticides near schools and licensed child daycare facilities.

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“These rules will help to further protect the health of children, teachers and school staff from unintended pesticide exposure,” says Brian Leahy, DPR director. “They build on our existing strict regulations and give an additional layer of protection that is now consistent across the state.”

The new regulation was adopted following an extensive process to gather public and stakeholder input during the past two years. DPR conducted three formal hearings and 15 public workshops in five locations around the state to gather input and reviewed more than 19,000 public comments.

The new regulation prohibits many pesticide applications within a quarter-mile of public K-12 schools and licensed child daycare facilities during school hours, Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. 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.

In addition, it requires California growers to provide annual notification to public K-12 schools and licensed daycare facilities, as well as county agricultural commissioners, of the pesticides expected to be used within a quarter mile of these schools and facilities in the upcoming year.

Although California has strict regulations governing the use of pesticides, population growth has created a growing number of situations where schools and daycare facilities are located near or directly adjacent to working farms, increasing the potential for unintended exposures to pesticides.

Many California counties have adopted local rules related to pesticide applications near schools and day-care centers, but until now, the state did not have a consistent, statewide standard. The regulation is expected to affect about 4,100 public K-12 schools and licensed child daycare facilities and approximately 2,500 growers in California.

In addition to tightening restrictions, the regulation is designed to encourage greater communication between growers and schools or licensed daycare facilities. 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.

The regulation also allows a school, a grower and the county agricultural commissioner to devise alternative application restrictions that provide an equal or greater level of protection to those provided by the regulation. Click here to view the new regulation and other related documents.