Communities demand one-mile buffer zones
In September, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released draft regulations to better protect school children and staff from hazardous agricultural pesticides used near schools, but there's little relief for communities on the frontlines, and DPR continues to violate its civil rights obligations.
The draft regs establish statewide, 1/4-mile, part-time buffer zones for schools and daycares in California. The buffer zones will be in effect on schooldays from 6am to 6pm, and apply to fumigants and various drift-prone application methods.
But DPR's proposed part-time, 1/4-mile buffer zones won't come close to adequately protecting kids or staff, especially Latino school children:
- Study after study has shown that pesticides drift far more than 1/4 mile, with the only comprehensive, national report of drift-related pesticide poisoning finding that 82% of all pesticide-related cases with information on distance occurred more than 1/4 mile from the application site.
- Students and staff engage in many activities that take place on school grounds well outside of 6am-6pm on school days.
- And eight of the ten pesticides most heavily used within 1/4 mile of schools - including pesticides that show evidence of causing cancer, reproductive damage, harm to the brain and nervous system, and asthma and other respiratory problems - persist in the environment for more than a week. And even low-level exposure to many of these pesticides is linked to significant childhood health harms.
- And Latino school children are disproportionately affected, being almost twice as likely as white children to attend schools near the heaviest agricultural pesticide use.