Tuesday, December 3, 2019
[Ventura County] Ag commissioner questions report on pesticides
The county’s agricultural commissioner disagrees with a grand jury’s recommendation calling for more pesticide monitoring around schools near agricultural fields, but said he will discuss the issue with state officials.
Released in April, the county grand jury report generally credits existing county regulations for controlling pesticide use near schools and day care centers.
The report concluded that “the lack of any complaints from schools or day care campuses of over-spray or drift from pesticide applications and fumigations in the last two years suggests that the level of regulations appears to be effective.”
However, the report also concluded that increased pesticide sampling of agricultural lands near schools and day care centers “would provide additional public assurance of safety.”
Edmund Williams, Ventura County’s agriculture commissioner, had a different opinion, stating in a written response approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors on Nov. 5 that more monitoring “is not always best.”
He pointed to a July news release from the Air Monitoring Network, an organization created in 2011 by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. One of the network’s eight monitoring stations is on the campus of Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, the only monitoring station in Ventura County.
In July, the Department of Pesticide Regulation reported that pesticides monitored by the network’s eight stations in 2018 “were found below levels that indicate a health concern.”
Eight pesticides the stations looked for did not even show up; 17 were detected at only trace levels, the release said.
In his letter of response, Williams broke down the individual data collected at Rio Mesa High.
“Results for Rio Mesa found only eight of 36 chemicals monitored were detected at any level,” he wrote. “Only three (pesticides) were detected at quantifiable levels. Levels for these three were well below acute or sub-chronic health risk levels.”
His office and the county have confidence in the county’s pesticides regulations and the state’s monitoring system for pesticides, Williams wrote.
Increasing the number of monitoring stations should remain the responsibility of the state, he wrote.
Even so, Supervisor Linda Parks requested that language be included in the county’s response supporting additional monitoring around schoolchildren.
“It sounds like a reasonable request,” Parks said at the Nov. 7 meeting.
Williams responded that he plans to meet with the director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation later this month and said he would discuss the possibility of adding more monitoring sites in the county.
November 15, 2019
By Hector Gonzalez