Once again, air monitoring results released from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) show that most of the monitored pesticides, in various rural agricultural communities, were found well below levels that indicate a health concern or need for further evaluation.
“DPR’s Air Monitoring Program, which is based on good scientific data, shows our overall approach is working to protect Californians as pesticides are used to grow food for the nation.” said Brian Leahy, Director of DPR. It is a useful tool which gives us real life data about the pesticide levels in the air.”
California is the only state that monitors air as part of its continuous reevaluation of pesticides to ensure the protection of workers, public health and the environment. It monitors and analyzes 32 pesticides and 5 breakdown products in six communities:
Salinas (Monterey County), Shafter (Kern County) and Ripon (San Joaquin County) which DPR directly monitors and
Ventura, Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County) and Watsonville (Santa Cruz County) which the Air Resources Board (ARB) monitors at DPRs request.
The key findings from this year’s 2014 air monitoring results include:
Of the 32 pesticides and five breakdown products that were monitored, 14 could not be detected at all and 12 were only detected at trace levels.
At all monitored sites, levels of the pesticide 1,3-D were significantly lower than in 2013, in some case as much as 50 per cent lower. Part of that can be attributed to the fact that in February 2014 DPR lowered the amount of 1,3-D that some regions may use.
In 2014, chloropicrin was detected at one site (Santa Maria) slightly above a DPR screening level for a 4-week time period. The screening level is set by DPR to determine if a more detailed evaluation is needed. It does not mean a significant increased health risk. (In Jan 2015 DPR took action to reduce exposures to chloropicrin).
At one site (Shafter), the average 1-year concentration of 1,3-D detected was significantly less than in 2013. However the pesticide, a carcinogen, was detected at a level that if continued for a lifetime of 70 years, would be above a DPR regulatory target. Exceeding a regulatory target does not mean that adverse health effect will occur, but it does mean that the current restrictions on the pesticide’s use may need to be modified to protect public health. (DPR is conducting a detailed scientific assessment of 1,3-D, including analyzing the applications and weather conditions during the time high concentrations were detected to reduce future air concentrations).
It is not unusual to see slight variances in annual data and these may be caused by a number of factors including weather conditions, pest pressures and types of applications used.
In 2011 DPR formed the DPR’s air monitoring network to monitor 32 pesticides and five pesticide breakdown products in three California communities: Salinas (Monterey County), Shafter (Kern County) and Ripon (San Joaquin County). The pesticides were selected based on their potential health risks and the amount used. They include all the major fumigants, as well as chlorpyrifos. The communities were selected from a list of 226 communities based on pesticide use on surrounding farmland and demographics, including the percentage of children, the elderly and farmworkers in the local population.
DPR’s air monitoring network was established to expand the department’s knowledge of the potential health risks of long-term exposure to pesticides, rather than rely on short-term monitoring data. The data from the network helps DPR determine if additional protective measures are needed.
The 2014 air monitoring report can be found at http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/emon/airinit/air_network_results.htm