A new study from UCLA says the California Department of Pesticide Regulation should do more to protect people from exposure to multiple pesticides.
The study looked at three fumigants commonly applied together in California. It found a "reasonable likelihood" the three can interact to increase health risks to farm workers and people who live near fields or orchards. The report says the chemicals can damage DNA and decrease the body’s ability to detoxify.
“They could increase the risk of cancer," says report author Virginia Zaunbrecher, with UCLA’s Sustainable Technology and Policy Program. "That increase, it could be additive. You could add the risk of each together. But because they interact in this way, it might be more than additive. It could be multiplicative, so the sum might be greater than the parts.”
The study also found that the Department of Pesticide Regulation fails to regulate the risks despite having authority to do so.
“The moment that pesticides enter into the regulatory process...when they are first reviewed, the state actually ignores those potential effects of pesticides interacting between each other,” says Paul Tower with the Pesticide Action Network.
The DPR says its scientists will review the issues and recommendations made in the study. It says these types of studies often lack the rigorous science needed to make regulations.
Click here for interactive map that shows fumigant use by week in California.