DPR Releases 1998 Pesticide Use Data
SACRAMENTO -- Cal/EPA's Department of Pesticide Regulation reports
that pesticide use went up 5 percent in 1998, based on pounds
applied. DPR data also showed that use of some highly toxic chemicals
dropped to their lowest levels in years, while use of reduced-risk
pesticides sharply increased.
DPR's preliminary data showed total reported use at 215 million
pounds in 1998, compared to 204.8 million pounds in 1997. (Data
summaries may be viewed and downloaded from DPR's Web site
<www.cdpr.ca.gov>. DPR plans to continue its review of the 1998 data
for errors and release a final version by the end of December.)
Reported use includes production agriculture and postharvest
fumigation of crops, structural pest control, landscape maintenance,
and other uses. Exempt from reporting requirements are home and
garden use of pesticides, and most industrial and institutional uses.
"This data is an important tool that helps DPR direct its resources
to protect people and the environment," said DPR Director Paul E.
Helliker. "It also provides valuable information for researchers,
the public, and the agricultural industry."
Among findings in the 1998 data:
-- All of the increased pesticide use from 1997 to 1998 could be
attributed to sulfur, a natural fungicide favored by organic and
conventional growers alike. Sulfur use went up 13.7 million pounds as
fungicide use generally increased in 1998 due to wet weather created
by El Niņo, according to DPR analysts.
-- Use of reduced-risk chemicals increased by more than 350
percent, from 72,838 pounds in 1997 to 330,882 pounds in 1998.
Cumulative acreage treated rose from less than 400,000 acres in 1997
to 1.4 million acres in 1998. [The U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (U.S. EPA) formally began designating certain pesticides as
"reduced-risk" chemicals in 1993.]
-- Use of methyl bromide, a highly toxic fumigant, declined to
its lowest level since 1991. Some 13.9 million pounds of methyl
bromide use was reported in 1998, compared to 15.7 million pounds in
1997 and more than 16 million pounds in 1996. Declining poundage
coincides with DPR restrictions on structural and agricultural use
that impose the strongest controls on methyl bromide in the nation.
-- Use of two other pesticides subject to regulatory concerns
also declined in 1998. Chlorpyrifos and diazinon -- insecticides used
in both agricultural and urban environments -- have been linked to
surface water contamination. Diazinon use fell to its lowest level
since 1991 -- some 874,662 pounds was applied in 1998, compared to
955,000 pounds in 1997. Chlorpyrifos applications totaled 2.4 million
pounds in 1998, compared to 3.2 million pounds in 1997.
-- Pesticides classified as reproductive toxins showed the
lowest use since 1993, as measured by pounds applied. Some 29.5
million pounds were reported in 1998, compared to 32.6 million pounds
-- Use of cholinesterase-inhibiting pesticides dropped almost 20
percent from 1997 to 1998, from 16.2 million pounds to 13 million
pounds. This represents the lowest reported usage since 1991.
(Cholinesterase-inhibiting pesticides disrupt pest nervous systems,
and overexposure can cause similar adverse effects in humans.)
Some other categories of pesticide use showed an increase. Use of
carcinogenic chemicals listed by the State under Proposition 65, or
as B2 carcinogens by U.S. EPA, increased about 3 percent, from 24.5
million pounds in 1997 to 25.3 million pounds in 1998. (The B2
designation indicates probable human carcinogens, based on tests on
"It is important to note that these statistics do not indicate actual
exposure to chemicals," said Helliker. "Exposure is the key in
determining whether a chemical poses a risk to people or the
environment. So our goal is to reduce pesticide exposure to levels
where we have no health concerns. DPR is leading the search for
reduced-risk pest management methods."
The 350 percent increase in use of reduced-risk chemicals from 1997
to 1998 coincides with several DPR efforts. Since 1996, for example,
DPR has given top priority to registration of reduced-risk chemicals.
The Department has also provided more than $4.3 million in grants
since 1996 to support integrated pest management (IPM), a strategy
that emphasizes natural pest control and minimal chemical use.
California is the only state that requires full use reporting, and
DPR has compiled the reports in the most extensive database of its
kind in the nation. DPR analyses show pesticide use varies from year
to year, depending upon pest problems, weather, cropping patterns,
and other factors.
Summaries of 1998 pesticide use -- categorized by chemical
and crop or site -- are available free online at
<www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pur/purmain.htm>. The 1996 and 1997 pesticide
use summaries are also available on the Web site. 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. A complete data set of the 2.5 million-plus
individual 1998 pesticide use records is also available on CD ROM for
$12. For information about the CD-ROM, call the DPR Environmental
Monitoring and Pest Management Branch at 916/324-4100.
DPR has supplemented the use data with a major study published
online: Pesticide Use Analysis and Trends from 1991 to 1996. The
study examines critical 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. The
study is online at <www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pur/pur97rep/pur_anal.htm>.
One of six boards and departments within the California Environmental
Protection Agency, DPR regulates the use of pesticides to protect
human health and the environment.
Veda Federighi, Glenn Brank
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