How Dangerous Is Pesticide Drift?


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❝ If you live near a big farm or an otherwise frequently manicured landscape, “pesticide drift”—drifting spray and dust from pesticide applications — could be an issue for you and yours. Indeed, pesticide drift is an insidious threat to human health as well as to wildlife and ecosystems in and around agricultural and even residential areas where harsh chemicals are used to ward off pests. The biggest risk from pesticide drift is to those living, working or attending school near larger farms which employ elevated spraying equipment or crop duster planes to apply chemicals to crops and fields. Children are especially vulnerable to these airborne pesticides, given that their young bodies are still growing and developing…

❝ Thanks in large part to advocacy by Pesticide Action Network and other groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made strides in protecting more of us against pesticide drift. In late 2009 the agency rolled out new guidelines directing pesticide manufacturers to include labeling on their products indicating how to minimize off-target spray and dust drift. Any spray pesticides manufactured or labeled as of January 2012 and for sale in the U.S. must display the warning on its label: “Do not apply this product in a manner that results in spray (or dust) drift that harms people or any other non-target organisms or sites.”…

Even though spray pesticides are now labeled and 28 states have drift spray regulations on their books, pesticide drift continues to be a problem wherever crops are grown. If pesticide drift is an issue where you live, work, study or play, contact PAN. The group can send out a “Drift Catcher”—a device that collects air samples which can then be analyzed for pesticides. “It enables farmworkers and community members to document and draw attention to otherwise invisible chemical exposures,” says PAN.

Please, please – live or work in an area where this is a problem – contact PAN.

Army suspends germ research to figure out inventory?

Army officials have suspended most research involving dangerous germs at the biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland, which the FBI has linked to the anthrax attacks of 2001, after discovering that some pathogens stored there were not listed in a laboratory database.

The suspension, which began Friday and could last three months, is intended to allow a complete inventory of hazardous bacteria, viruses and toxins stored in refrigerators, freezers and cabinets in the facility, the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The inventory was ordered by the institute’s commander, Colonel John P. Skvorak, after officials found that the database of specimens was incomplete. In a memorandum to employees last week, Skvorak said there was a high probability that some germs and toxins in storage were not in the database…

One scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said samples from completed projects were not always destroyed, and departing scientists sometimes left behind vials whose contents were unknown to colleagues.

Now, that’s reassuring. A scavenger hunt.