Farmers applied fewer pesticides in 2014 says state agency

Pesticide use among agriculture has declined in California, according to the state agency that regulates chemical uses.

DPR report: pesticide use falls 3 percent in California

DPR reports consistent drop in pesticide use among agriculture Use of carcinogens also declining Pesticide use includes applications in landscaping, residential and commercial

The amount of pesticides used statewide declined 3 percent in 2014 according to data from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. For a second year in a row, there was a drop in the use of various chemical categories including carcinogens, fumigants, and those with the potential to contaminate ground water.

Agriculture accounts for the greatest pesticide use in California, but other applications include landscaping, and pest control in residential and commercial buildings.

According to the 2014 Pesticide Use Report the overall amount of pesticides used in California dropped to 189 million pounds in 2014. That was a decrease of 3 percent, from 195 million pounds in the previous year. Pesticides used in agriculture alone dropped 3 percent since 2013, to 173.51 million pounds.  

“The comprehensive information on pesticide use in California that is gathered by the Department of Pesticide Regulation is unique in the nation,” said Brian Leahy, DPR Director. “I am especially pleased to note that California is reducing the use of the pesticides that can be the most hazardous to human health and the pesticides most challenging to control.”

California produces nearly half of American grown fruits, nuts and vegetables, and the amount of pesticides use varies annually, depending upon pest problems, weather, acreage and other factors.

Other highlights of the 2014 Pesticide Use Report data include:

  • The use of carcinogenic pesticides dropped 6.5 percent to 30.01 million pounds, down from about 32.09 million in 2013. In 2012, California used 33.83 million pounds;
  • The use of pesticides with the potential to pollute the air dropped 5.75 percent to 44.1 million pounds, down from 46.79 million in 2013. In 2012, California used 49.22 million pounds;
  • The use of fumigant pesticides dropped to 40.39 million pounds, down 5.44 percent from about 42.71 million in 2013. In 2012, California used 44.96 million pounds;
  • The use of pesticides that could contaminate ground water dropped to 689,710 pounds, down 18 percent from about 845,280 pounds in 2013. In 2012, California used 1.09 million pounds; and,
  • The use of cholinesterase-inhibiting pesticides, which includes organophosphates, dropped .22 percent to 4.63 million pounds, down from about 4.64 million in 2013. California used 4.11 million pounds in 2012.

The pesticide-use data, which has become more-comprehensive in the decades since such information started being collected in the 1950s, helps support DPR in its regulatory and enforcement mission.

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