The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently proposed a regulation that it states is intended to “(1) provide minimum statewide standards for all agricultural pesticide applications near public K-12 schools and child day care facilities; (2) provide an extra margin of safety in case of unintended drift or when other problems with applications occur (e.g., equipment failure causes an unintended release of pesticide, or an abrupt change in weather conditions); (3) increase communication between growers and schools/child day care facilities; and (4) provide information to assist schools and child day care facilities in preparing for and responding to pesticide emergencies.”

This proposal has been long anticipated, is far reaching, and of significant concern to many growers and registrants.

In its Initial Statement of Reasons, DPR summarizes the proposed regulations, stating that they will: “require growers to notify public K-12 schools, child day care facilities (except family day care homes), and county agricultural commissioners when certain pesticide applications made for the production of an agricultural commodity near a schoolsite are planned in the coming year and also a few days prior to the applications.” The proposed regulation also would prohibit at certain times certain pesticide applications near these schoolsites. Specifically, the regulation is proposed to do the following:

  • Prohibit many pesticide applications for the production of an “agricultural commodity” within a quarter mile of schoolsites from Monday through Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. “Schoolsites” are defined by Education Code section 17609(f) as: “‘any facility used as a child day care facility, as defined in Section 1596.750 of the Health and Safety Code, or for kindergarten, elementary, or secondary school purposes. The term includes the buildings or structures, playgrounds, athletic fields, vehicles, or any other area of property visited or used by pupils.” ‘Schoolsite’ does not include any postsecondary educational facility attended by secondary pupils or private kindergarten, elementary, or secondary school facilities.” DPR also proposed to exclude from the definition of schoolsite any family day care homes “because, unlike other schoolsites, the locations of these facilities are not publically available.” DPR states it considered other distances but proposed the one-quarter mile radius based on several factors, including but not limited the fact that this restriction is similar to the restrictions on fumigant labels that prohibit closer applications around schools and other difficult to evacuate sites and based on an analysis of pesticide illnesses due to drift from agricultural applications. The proposed prohibition would apply to applications by aircraft, sprinkler chemigation equipment, air-blast sprayers, and fumigant applications. In addition, dust and/or powder pesticide applications would also be prohibited during this time unless applied as a dust or powder using field soil injection equipment.
  • Require California growers and pest control contractors to notify public K-12 schools and child day-care facilities and county agricultural commissioners (CAC) when certain pesticide applications are made within a quarter mile of these schools and facilities.

Under the proposed regulation, California growers would be required to provide two types of notifications to a school or child day-care facility:

An annual notification that lists all the pesticides expected to be used during the upcoming year. This must be provided to the school or child day care facility administrator by April 30 each year. The notice must include, among other things:

  • The name of pesticide products (and the main active ingredient) to be used;

  • A map showing the location of the field to be treated;

  • Contact information for the grower/operator and the County Agricultural Commissioner; and

  • The web address for the National Pesticide Information Center where additional sources of information or facts on pesticides may be obtained.

An application-specific notification which must be provided to the school or child day-care facility 48 hours before each application is made. This begins January 1, 2018, and must include, among other things:

  • Name of pesticide products (and the main active ingredient) to be used;
  • Specific location of the application and the number of acres to be treated; and
  • Earliest date and time of the application.

Comments on the proposed regulation are due by November 17, 2016. DPR states that a final regulation is expected to become effective in September 2017.

Many have concerns with the proposed regulation, which DPR has been discussing publicly for some time. These concerns include what many believe are significant economic impacts to growers and others that they believe may not have been adequately considered and are not necessary for appropriate use of registered pesticides. Registrants and others should review the proposal carefully.