Sacramento, CA—Yesterday, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) issued an executive order to all county agricultural commissioners (CACs) to apply protections from pesticide drift to children schooling in homes in addition to schools. The guidance reiterates the importance of these protections, such as notifications about pesticide spraying, continuing around schools even while they are closed during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, and uniquely, the guidance encourages CACs to also apply these pesticide spraying protections to children receiving school instruction at their home.
"DPR's guidance is an unprecedented positive step toward protecting children and adults from pesticide drift in their homes," said Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director at Center for Food Safety. "With children now engaging in "distance learning," these protections and notifications are critical to protecting their health which is particularly important during the current pandemic."
The guidance states that the State pesticide enforcement program must be maintained during the COVID-19 emergency. State law requires CACs to protect students participating in educational instruction at home, along with their families and others providing educational instruction at home, as well as students, parents, teachers, and other personnel who remain present at school sites during the COVID-19 emergency. These protections include regulations that require annual notification by property operators within ¼ mile of all school sites (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 3, § 6692.) The notification requirement remains in effect for this coming year and now DPR is encouraging CACs to have growers provide appropriate notices to nearby residents.
The guidance also states that violations to the pesticide restriction rules that occur near homes or schools during the emergency should be considered "Class A" violations and should carry fines at the top of the range.
"The message from DPR and the Administration to pesticide sprayers and users is clear: we are going to protect homes just like we do schools from pesticide spraying, because now every house is a schoolhouse," said Spector.