California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation registers pesticide products; county-level agricultural commissioners issue permits for the use of “restricted” pesticides — those that present significant human health or environmental concerns. State law requires that when farmers apply for pesticide use permits, county agricultural commissioners must deny the use of a restricted pesticide when feasible safer alternative pesticides — as well as measures like using tarps or creating pesticide “buffer zones” that could mitigate the chemicals’ impact — are available.
But a new study by UCLA and University of Southern California researchers concludes that commissioners are issuing permits for pesticide use without considering safer alternatives, and without evaluating the health implications of “cumulative exposure,” which occurs when growers apply two or more pesticides to the same or adjacent fields.
According to newsroom.ucla.edu, the report is the third in a series that reviews California pesticide regulation; the studies are conducted by researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, UCLA School of Law, UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and USC’s Keck School of Medicine. The prior reports documented similar flaws in how the Department of Pesticide Regulation registers pesticides for use on California farms.