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California May Ban Pesticides Near Schools

Photo / Pesticide Watch

File photo of pesticide application.

Photo / Pesticide Watch

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is proposing new rules that would ban farmers from spraying airborne pesticides within a quarter mile of any school or day care facility. Some counties already require buffer zones, but the rule would apply statewide.

"A quarter mile buffer zone is very large, it's four football fields. So it's a great distance and we feel that that would provide the kind of protection we're hoping to provide," says Craig Cassidy with the DPR.

But some environmental groups have argued that a quarter mile is not enough protection from volatile pesticides. The ban would only prevent pesticide spraying on weekdays between 6 a.m and 6 p.m, when children are most likely at risk of exposure.

“Many of the pesticides that would fall under these rules are incredibly volatile drift-prone air contaminants, in fact the state Department of Pesticide Regulation acknowledges that they can persist in the air for days or weeks at a time,” says Paul Towers with the Pesticide Action Network. 

Towers says the regulations should require a minimum of a mile buffer zone between schools and pesticide applications. 

Farmers say the regulations are unnecessary and notification requirements under the proposal are expensive.  DPR says if adopted the rules would not be enforced until late next year.