Central California air quality samples show improvements

Studies show improved air quality related to certain chemical pesticides sampled for by the California Department of Pesticide Regulations. Still, concerns remain over some fumigants.

DPR air sampling reveals good news and concerns

DPR concerned about air samples related to some fumigants Agency says progress being made to clear the air of dangerous chemicals Proposals will be made this fall on possible regulatory actions regarding Chloropicrin    

Air quality samples in three key California regions where agricultural pesticides are used continue to show levels well below health concern benchmarks, according to a report issued by the California Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR).

Air monitor network (AMN) studies from 2013 for all the major fumigants and Chlorpyrifos suggest that regulatory efforts are working to reduce human and environmental impacts to key chemicals used by agriculture and other industries.

This is the third consecutive year that DPR has found levels of many of the sampled pesticides below the threshold for public health concern at sites it surveys in Salinas, Ripon and Shafter. Of the 32 pesticides and five breakdown products monitored, 13 could not be detected at all and 10 were detected at trace levels.

Such was not quite the case for Chloropicrin as its levels were detected slightly above a DPR screening level at the Salinas location.

According to Charlotte Fadipe, assistant director of communications for DPR, regulators will continue to watch air samples in all three locations for levels of Chloropicrin to ensure they remain within threshold levels determined safe by the regulatory agency.

The goal of DPR is to assess trends in Chloropicrin levels and other chemicals in the air and ensure they do not pose a health or environmental hazard.

The three locations chosen for these samples were picked from a list of 226 communities based on pesticide use on surrounding farmland and demographics. This includes the percentage of children, elderly and farmworkers in the local populations.

More samples needed

What this means practically is sampling will continue for another two years, Fadipe said. Additionally, DPR will solicit public comment later this year on a list of proposals to be issued in order to reduce the human and environmental impacts of these products.

One fumigant DPR says remains low in air sample studies, but is on a watch-list, is the active ingredient 1,3-dichloropropene. While its levels continue to be below thresholds, DPR did say that if continued at a constant rate for 70 years levels would rise above a DPR regulatory target.

Earlier this year DPR took action to reduce the amount of 1,3-D that could be used in an attempt to reduce its impacts on the environment and public health, Fadipe said.

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California is the only state that monitors air as part of its continuous evaluation of pesticides to ensure worker protection, public health and environmental concerns are met.

This includes conducting field studies to monitor exposure to workers and to measure how pesticides move and break down in the air, soil and water. DPR uses this information to decide if further regulatory measures are necessary.

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