SACRAMENTO -- Cal/EPA's Department of Pesticide Regulation has
released 1997 pesticide use statistics that show a 3.5 percent
increase in pounds applied from 1996, and a slight decrease from 1995.
Reported pesticide use in California totaled 204,779,717
pounds in 1997, compared to 197,828,481 pounds in 1996 and
205,133,950 pounds in 1995. Reported use includes production
agriculture and postharvest fumigation of crops, structural pest
control, landscape maintenance, and other uses. Exempt from
reporting requirements and therefore not included in these totals are
home and garden use of pesticides, and most industrial and
Summaries of pesticide use in 1997 -- categorized by chemical
and crop or site -- are available on DPR's Web site
<www.cdpr.ca.gov/whatnew.htm>. (The 1996 pesticide use summaries,
released in May, are also available on the Web site.) And DPR has
supplemented the use data with a new study published online:
Pesticide Use Analysis and Trends from 1991 to 1996. The study
examines major crops, pest problems, and high-use chemicals. It also
analyzes trends in pesticides where use is highest as measured in
pounds, number of applications, and acres treated.
"We need to reduce the use of the high-hazard pesticides, and
this kind of analysis will help us understand what factors drive
their use," said DPR Director Paul E. Helliker. "We can also examine
the use of reduced-risk alternatives, and the crops, regions and
situations where they are used most effectively."
The analysis determined that 31 pesticides account for 85
percent of pounds used, 52 percent of all applications, and 50
percent of the acres treated in 1996. The same pesticides also
accounted for most of the increased use from 1991 to 1996; only four
pesticides accounted for 68 percent of all pounds applied. The study
underscores the fact that one year of data does not signify a trend.
Pesticide use varies from year to year, depending upon pest problems,
weather, crops, and other factors discussed in DPR's analysis.
Helliker noted that pounds applied is only one of several
measures of pesticide use. "DPR's goal is to encourage the use of
reduced-risk pest management tools -- including chemicals -- which
have the least impact on the environment," he said. "Some
reduced-risk chemicals are used at higher rates, so pounds applied
may not provide an accurate measure of our progress."
DPR compiles yearly pesticide use reports from the most
extensive database of its kind in the nation.
"The Department deferred release of the 1996 and 1997
pesticide use reports while developing software programs to provide
more accurate data to the public," said Helliker. "We expect to bring
the schedule of our annual pesticide use reports up to date with the
release of the 1998 data in August."
Some key facts from the 1997 pesticide use reports:
*Production agriculture accounted for 189,796,122 pounds applied
(with an additional 1,608,996 pounds used for postharvest commodity
treatment) compared to 182,375,369 pounds (plus 1,847,859
postharvest) in 1996 and 187,577,922 pounds (plus 3,770,169
postharvest) in 1995.
* About one-third of the total pounds applied in 1997 involved
sulfur. A natural fungicide favored by organic and conventional
growers alike, sulfur was also the most-used pesticide from 1991 to
*The top five crops for pounds of pesticide used were wine grapes
(27.1 million pounds); table and raisin grapes (26.9 million pounds);
almonds (14.5 million pounds); cotton (13.4 million pounds); and
oranges (11.5 million pounds).
Reported pesticide applications make up about 30 percent of
the pesticides sold in the state each year. In 1997, there were 653.9
million pounds of pesticide active ingredients sold in California,
compared to 699.6 million pounds in 1996. These sales figures include
not only chemicals whose use must be reported, but also pesticides
not subject to reporting requirements. This includes pesticides used
in homes and gardens and in industrial and institutional settings,
such as disinfectants and other antimicrobial products. Among the
latter is chlorine used for municipal water treatment. Chlorine
products typically account for more than a third of the pesticide
active ingredients sold in California. Approximately 10,500 branded
products that contained about 800 different active ingredients were
registered for sale in California in 1997.
Summaries of the 1997 pesticide use data are available free
online or for a nominal charge on hard copy or diskette. Two summary
versions of the data (one indexed by pesticides, the other by crops)
include number of applications, acreage or units treated, and pounds
of pesticide used. The 300-page summaries may be ordered in hard copy
($10 each) or on diskette ($2.50). To order, send payment to:
Cashier, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, 830 K Street,
Sacramento 95814-3510, U. S. A. . A complete data set of the 2.5
million-plus individual 1997 pesticide use reports is also available
on CD ROM at a nominal cost. For information about the CD-ROM, call
the DPR Environmental Monitoring and Pest Management Branch at
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