State mulls new restrictions on carcinogenic fumigant 1,3-D Telone

Time to celebrate: The end of chlorpyrifos in California!

Meet Megan Kaun: Sonoma County Organizer

CPR is hiring! Pesticide organizer in Monterey & Santa Cruz
                                      Photo Credit: Phil Kampel

California mulls new restrictions on cancer-causing pesticide 1,3-D (Telone)
On heels of chlorpyrifos ban, public health and farmworker advocates call for restrictions on widely-used drift-prone fumigant

Photo credit: Phil Kampel
Dozens of residents from across the state converged on the capital last week to weigh in on new restrictions under discussion for the pesticide  1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D, or Telone), a heavily used and highly drift-prone carcinogenic pesticide. Under an unorthodox agreement in place since 1995, Telone's manufacturer Dow Agrosciences, now rebranded as Corteva, had inordinate influence over rules for its use, and was tasked with monitoring compliance. That arrangement is now facing fresh scrutiny as the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) embarks on regular rulemaking after a court judgment that found DPR guilty of unlawfully handing over its regulatory authority to Dow. 
At a hearing convened by DPR Thursday, residents of California's farmworking communities lined up to plead for relief from a chemical whose use has risen dramatically over the past two decades, and is now the third most heavily used pesticide in California, at more than 12 million pounds per year. 
One by one, more than two dozen residents called on DPR to immediately order all Telone applications to be covered by specialized TIF tarps in order to significantly reduce emissions, and to move swiftly to implement other rigorous and health-protective new restrictions including requiring large buffer zones around treated fields, reducing allowable use rates and limiting the size of individual applications. Currently, applications on the Central Coast's strawberry fields are routinely tarped, while those in the San Joaquin Valley are not, resulting in some alarmingly high air levels at DPR's air monitors in the San Joaquin Valley. In 2018, the highest levels ever recorded were measured in Shafter (50ppb) and Parlier (111ppb). After a level of 30 ppb was measured in the air in Merced in 1990, the chemical was banned for five years. 
Nearly two years have passed since unprecedented levels were measured in Shafter and a year after the even-higher level in Parlier, yet to date the state has taken no new action to reduce exposure or emissions in these or any other communities. Telone has been  banned for agricultural use in the European Union  since 2011.  
For concerned residents of the San Joaquin Valley, showing up for the hearing was a necessity. "I took the day off work and got up at 3am to travel from Kern County to this hearing, because I'm scared for my family. Here in Shafter, I've seen far too many people suffering and dying of cancer, and I really question whether the decision makers in Sacramento understand what we live with," said Shafter resident Anabel Márquez. More than 1.6 million pounds of Telone are used each year in Kern County.
There is a  long history of puzzling deference  by DPR toward Dow when it comes to management of Telone. After the chemical was banned in 1990, it was reintroduced in 1995 under rules created and enforced by Dow, with an annual use cap per 6x6 mile township, intended to keep exposure from exceeding the limit of 0.14ppb established by DPR for lifetime average cancer risk level. 
The use cap was soon weakened, however. A new rule allowed growers to roll over their unused allocations from prior years, a practice known as banking, and to apply for a waiver from the use cap when they wanted to use even more. The waivers were almost invariably granted. Under intense pressure from public health advocates, DPR ended both banking and waivers, but at the same time revised their method for calculating cancer risk in a manner that allowed them to increase the lifetime average 4-fold, and to increase the annual use cap by 50%, from 90,250 to 136,000 pounds per year per township
In 2018, a superior court judge in Alameda County found that DPR had ceded their regulatory authority to the manufacturer, propelling DPR to begin regular rulemaking. The new rule is expected to be finalized in the summer of 2020.
"It's hard to think of a clearer case of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse," said Sarah Aird, co-director of the statewide coalition Californians for Pesticide Reform. "The arrangement DPR made with Dow - letting them make up their own rules, monitor their own compliance, then ignore the rules when it suited them - almost defies belief. Luckily, a court agreed with us. We trust that under the Newsom Administration, DPR will now start to prioritize the health of communities over corporate profits."
This is Dow/Corteva's second time in the spotlight in California in as many weeks, after the October 9 announcement that use of their brain-damaging organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos will be forbidden after December 31, 2020. California's action followed the decision by the Trump Administration to reverse a planned federal ban, just two months after Dow made a $1 million contribution to Trump's inauguration committee. After a torrent of bad publicity, Dow Agrosciences rebranded itself as Corteva.

CPR celebrates California's decision to end use of brain-damaging nerve gas on food crops

Photo credit: Phil Kampel
As anyone who has worked on pesticide policy can attest, victories in this arena take years of hard work and persistence by a core of dedicated people demanding change and refusing to give up.

This month, along with dozens of CPR members in Sacramento for DPR's Telone workshop, we celebrated a significant win for California's farmworker communities: the announcement of a February deadline to end sales of chlorpyrifos in California, and an end to all use on December 31, 2020. 

After the reversal of a planned federal ban in 2017, chlorpyrifos became a potent symbol of the Trump Administration's war on immigrant communities, environmental regulation and scientific integrity. It took bold action by Governor Newsom, CalEPA Secretary Blumenfeld and DPR Director Val Dolcini to assert California's leadership in the face of federal treachery.

Chlorpyrifos is just one pesticide out of hundreds registered in California, but its impact is among the most grievous. For decades, babies and children in California's agricultural communities have suffered the consequences of exposure to this brain-harming organophosphate pesticide, and have paid dearly with their health, intellect and potential.

Chlorpyrifos will soon be gone, but with more than 200 million pounds of pesticides used in California each year - many of them hazardous and prone to drift - the fight for a just and sustainable food system is far from over. 

But for one sweet hour, we celebrated. With cake, of course.

Introducing Megan Kaun: Sonoma County organizer

We're delighted to welcome our new Sonoma County organizer, Megan Kaun, who is leading the new Sonoma Safe Ag Safe Schools (Sonoma SASS) coalition. With a background in environmental remediation and a passion for keeping toxics away from workers and kids, Megan has become a local leader in regenerative land management policy. 

It was a weedkiller application near a children's playground at her local park that inspired Megan to work toward eliminating unnecessary synthetic pesticide use in Sonoma County. Over the last 4 years, Megan has led efforts that have resulted in bans on synthetic herbicide use in all publicly accessible land owned by County of Sonoma Agencies, Santa Rosa City Schools, and 6 of the 9 cities in Sonoma County. 

We are excited to have Megan expand her efforts to focus on increased protections from agricultural pesticide use in Sonoma County's world-famous wine grape growing region. 

Born and raised in Sonoma County, Megan spent her early career working as an environmental and hydraulic engineer on watershed restoration and dredged material reuse projects for the Army Corps of Engineers in Chicago and San Francisco. She holds engineering degrees from Northwestern (BS) and Stanford (MS) Universities.

We're hiring! Monterey & Santa Cruz County organizer

Come join our dynamic team of regional pesticide organizers!
We're now hiring a bilingual organizer to coordinate our flourishing local Safe Ag Safe Schools coalitions in Watsonville and Salinas. Application deadline November 15, 2019. Full details here. Please share with your networks!