California announces proposed rules on agricultural pesticide use near schools and child day-care centers
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has released a proposed regulation that would give further protections to children when agricultural pesticides are applied close to schools and child day-care facilities*.
Many K-12 schools and child day-care facilities are located near farming operations and increasingly teachers, parents and the public want to know whether the chemicals being applied could adversely affect them.
Following extensive public input, the proposed regulation would provide an extra measure of protection to these sites from the risk of short-term pesticide exposure. It would also provide advance notification when certain pesticides are applied, so as to increase communication between growers and schools or child day-care facilities, and help them in responding to inquiries and potential incidents.
“This regulation not only builds in additional layers of protection for students and school staff that are located in agricultural areas, but it also ensures meaningful communication between farmers and the schools and child day-care facilities that are their neighbors,” said Brian Leahy, DPR director. See Video here
While many counties in California currently have varying requirements for notification of certain pesticide applications near schools, the proposed regulation would be the first statewide standard. The regulation would affect about 3,500 schools and child day-care facilities and involve approximately 2,500 growers in California.
“Our schools already do a great job of communicating with students, parents, staff and the neighboring community,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “This regulation will provide more information to schools and let them continue communicating with all concerned parties. Our schools can keep building productive relationships with all their neighbors, including agriculture.”
The proposal was informed by a series of public workshops held last year in five locations around the state to gather input from school administrators, growers and applicators, parents, teachers and the community. DPR is seeking further public comment on the proposed regulation by November 17, 2016, and a final regulation is expected to become effective in September 2017.
The proposed regulation would do the following:
- Prohibit many pesticide applications within a quarter mile of public K-12 schools and child day-care facilities from Monday through Friday between 6am and 6pm. These include all applications by aircraft, sprinklers, air-blast and all fumigant applications. In addition most dust and/or powder pesticide applications such as sulfur would also be prohibited during this time.
- Require California growers and pest control contractors to notify public K-12 schools and child day-care facilities and county agricultural commissioners (CACs) when certain pesticide applications are made within a quarter mile of these schools and facilities.
Under the proposed regulation, California growers would be required to provide two types of notifications to a school or child day-care facility:
(i) An annual notification that lists all the pesticides expected to be used during the upcoming year. This must be provided to the school or child day care facility administrator by April 30 each year**. The notice must include among other things:
- The name of pesticide products (and the main active ingredient) to be used
- A map showing the location of the field to be treated
- Contact information for the grower/operator and the County Agricultural Commissioner
- The web address for the National Pesticide Information Center where additional sources of information or facts on pesticides may be obtained.
(ii) An application-specific notification which must be provided to the school or child day-care facility 48 hours before each application is made. This begins Jan 1 2018 and must include among other things:
Name of pesticide products (and the main active ingredient) to be used;
Specific location of the application and the number of acres to be treated;
Earliest date and time of the application.
California has varying microclimates and schools have various extracurricular school activities. Therefore, the regulation will allow the individual school or child day-care facility, the grower and the CAC to develop an alternative written agreement, to which all three parties must consent, that provides equal or more protection than the regulation. This agreement will be enforced by the CAC.
The full regulation can be found at www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/legbills/rulepkgs.htm from September 30th.
Any interested person can submit written comments on the proposed regulation by 5 p.m. on November 17, 2016to firstname.lastname@example.org
*Schools and child day-care facilities means any facility used as a child day care facility, as defined in Section 1596.750 of the Health and Safety Code, or for kindergarten, elementary, or secondary school purposes. It excludes family day care homes, postsecondary educational facility attended by secondary pupils or private kindergarten, elementary, or secondary school facilities. The term includes the buildings or structures, playgrounds, athletic fields, vehicles, or any other area of property visited or used by pupils.
** DPR intends this regulation to take effect in Sept 2017. Thus, growers must provide the annual notification to the school principal/ child day-care facility administrator by October 1, 2017 for applications in the first 6 months of 2018. Thereafter the annual notification must be provided annually by April 30th for the upcoming year from July to through June.