Report: 32 Million Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Sprayed on Ventura County Fields from 2015 to 2020

Why did EWG develop this map?

This map can be used for public education, identifying high-risk areas, and developing policy and research priorities to reduce the harms of pesticides on human health. The map provides information on the types and amounts of pesticides used in fields near residents’ homes and the adverse health effects associated with these pesticides.

For people who work, live or go to school near agricultural fields, exposure to pesticide drift can increase the risk of respiratory and skin irritation and long-term damage such as cancer, to the brain and nervous system and low birth weight. The EWG map summarizes the available data on these potential risks.

How to use this card?

A map visitor can enter an address or locality, such as a school name, into the search bar in the upper right corner of the map to focus on that area. They can then click on an area of ​​the map to see information about pesticide use, including a list of the 10 pesticides applied in the highest volume in that area and the health concerns associated with each pesticide, as well as information on the property of the field. (Pesticide use data is reported on a township section basis. A section is approximately one square mile.)

Clicking on the circular “Info” button in the lower left corner of the map displays information about the map and the main results of the data analysis. The map and accompanying report are also available in Spanish.

How does the “Residential Areas” map differ from the “Fields” map?

Visitors to the map can assess pesticide use and health issues through two map displays:

  • Fields, showing areas where pesticides are applied.
  • Residential areas, showing clusters of residences and schools, highlighted in purple, that are within 2.5 miles of fields where pesticides are applied.

In the “Residential Areas” view, pesticide use and toxicity information is presented for all pesticide use areas within 2.5 miles of a residential area. This information highlights the cumulative impact of living near multiple fields. The “Fields” view displays data for a section area, approximately one square mile.

What do the colors on the map mean?

The colors of the map – yellow, orange and red – reflect the amount of pesticides applied in an area and their toxicity, red representing the highest level of use and/or toxicity. The total amount and toxicity of pesticides are plotted on a sliding scale of overall impact, based on percentiles between the lowest and highest pesticide impact. Clicking on the field or residential area will display more detailed information on the pesticides of most concern.

To determine the hazard score in the “Residential areas” tab of the map, EWG scientists also considered the proximity of a residence to pesticide applications. Areas are marked in red if there is a large amount of pesticides applied to that area, if they are highly toxic or if they are close to fields. Areas marked in yellow have the lowest 50th percentile of calculated hazard scores.

There may be differences in danger level between fields grouped in the same color.

The full methodology provides more details on how the hazard score was calculated.

What is the specificity of the place of application of pesticides?

Pesticide use data is reported on the basis of township sections of approximately one square mile, and sections may contain agricultural and non-agricultural land. Crop maps have been overlaid with images of sections of land to allow the map visitor to more accurately identify pesticide application locations in each township.

Each crop field that had the majority of the land in a single section was assigned the pesticide use characteristics reported for that section. Pesticide application locations reflect overall use within a section, not field-specific pesticide applications.

How did you determine the harmful effects of pesticides on health?

To assign specific toxicological impacts to individual pesticides, EWG scientists assessed published assessments by authoritative health agencies and toxicity information in peer-reviewed scientific literature.

EWG included the following chronic and acute health effects: cancer, brain damage, hormone disruption, thyroid toxicity, damage to developing children, damage to the reproductive system, and damage to the immune system, including asthma and respiratory tract irritation.

Why did you choose Ventura County?

Ventura has a high density of homes and schools near agricultural fields. Thirty-three elementary schools are within a quarter mile of pesticide spraying areas. Nearly three in four homes in Ventura are within 2.5 miles of pesticide use areas and more than one in four homes are within half a mile of pesticide spraying.

What about organic fields? Are pesticides used there, and are these pesticides less dangerous?

Yes, pesticides are often used on certified organic fields. But these pesticides are far less toxic than most chemicals allowed in conventional agriculture. To obtain organic certification, farmers can choose from a very short list of active ingredients of pesticides. Organic pesticides are often derived from natural sources, including compounds such as sulfur and copper pesticides. According to the California Certified Organic Farmers certification agent:

Organic farmers are only allowed to use organic or botanical pesticides such as neem and citrus materials and synthetic materials on the national list of permitted and prohibited substances. Materials on the National List are evaluated by the National Organic Standards Board, which recommends the addition and removal of materials based on criteria such as no natural alternative; no negative impact on the environment during the manufacture, use or disposal of the material; and the material does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil or water.

Data collected on pesticide use in California does not indicate whether the location where they were applied was an organic field, making it difficult to identify areas used for organic farming. Both organic and conventional agricultural fields are included in the EWG map, without distinguishing between them. In Ventura in 2020, organic farming accounts for approximately 10% of crop value and 3% of cultivated area.

A recent study of 9,000 fields in Kern County, California, a major agricultural production county, found that for organic farms the likelihood of pesticide use is 30% lower than for non-conventional fields.. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, “most natural pesticides used in organic production are exempt from the requirement for a tolerance because they are so low in toxicity.” A tolerance is the maximum allowable limit of a pesticide allowed in food, set by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Our family lives in the “red zone”. Should I be worried and what can we do to protect our health?

Several factors determine which areas are red, including proximity to pesticide applications, large amount of pesticide applied, and high pesticide toxicity. People may be at higher risk of being exposed to pesticides if they live in a red zone.

There are many ways to protect your health by reducing exposure to pesticides:

  • If you see pesticide application, be sure to close windows and bring children and pets inside.
  • People living or working near the pesticide spray can remove their shoes before entering the house, use a doormat in the entrance, change and wash their clothes soon after returning home, and pass frequent l vacuum cleaner to remove dust.
  • Report pesticide drift events to the local agricultural commissioner’s office.

What is the safe distance from a field where pesticides are sprayed?

The closer a person, home, or school is to pesticide applications, the greater the risk of harm from exposure or pesticide drift, especially acute harm, such as skin and tract irritation. breathing or dizziness and drowsiness. It is important to note that certain variables, such as wind speed and direction, can significantly affect the risk of drift and pesticide exposure.

California limits daytime pesticide application to within a quarter mile of schools.

But pesticide air monitoring has shown that some pesticides can travel miles from the site of application, and recent epidemiological evidence suggests that health harms such as childhood cancers may be associated with pesticide applications. up to 2.5 miles away.

Comments are closed.