Environmental groups sound alarm over pesticide drift in Iowa, US



There are nearly 370 elementary schools in Iowa within a quarter-mile of farmland, including about 30 in the Des Moines metro, and these schools are likely to have been sprayed with pesticides. Children could be exposed to harmful chemicals, the Environmental Working Group report said.

A report released Thursday says 22 schools in Iowa are among about 4,000 schools nationwide that are closer to farmland (within 200 feet), potentially putting students in the path of pesticide drift. It is said that there is a sex. The group said pesticides can be dispersed several miles away from where they are sprayed.

Along with the report, the group released an online interactive map that allows users to enter an address and see nearby schools within 200 feet, or a quarter-mile, of a field.


Many cities, counties and states in the U.S., including Iowa, have some kind of regulation in place regarding spraying near schools and parks where children play, according to environmental advocacy groups in Washington, D.C., but some lawmakers are They say they are pushing for federal legislation that would block those protections.

Sen. Cory Booker joined the study’s authors on a call with reporters Thursday, saying states and local governments should implement buffer zones, limit or ban crop spraying around schools, and limit when pesticides are sprayed. He said that he is taking measures such as:

more: Farmers, could you please leave one of your toenails? UI asking for clippings as evidence of chemical exposure

Despite these efforts, “some lawmakers are now proposing to pre-empt all of these laws and take away the right of states and localities to do what they need to do to protect children.” ” said the New Jersey Democrat and former presidential candidate.

Iowa agriculture groups say farmers follow strict rules when applying pesticides to the state’s 22.5 million acres of corn and soybeans to prevent them from spreading to other lands.

“Farmers are very cautious about spraying pesticides…especially if they’re near non-agricultural areas like schools, someone’s home, a garden, etc.,” said Megan Anderson, an Iowa State University Extension agronomist.

Here’s what Iowans need to know about the report and pesticide drift.

What is the threat to elementary school students from drifting pesticides?

The Environmental Working Group said it could not link the school located near the field to the incident of the child’s illness. The report found that about 30 states, including Georgia, Kentucky and Texas, have adopted strict standards for when and how pesticides can be sprayed near schools, leading to cancer, neurotoxicity, growth and cancer. It said it points out the potential for human health harm that pesticides can cause, including reproductive problems. Children are particularly vulnerable to potential health problems, the group said.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture said Thursday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rigorously tests pesticides to ensure they are safe for people and the environment, and the state requires training and testing for private and commercial applicators. announced. It also investigates complaints about pesticide use, with agricultural-related notifications increasing more than threefold over the past 10 years to 294 in 2022.

What pesticide limits does Iowa have?

The Environmental Working Group pointed to a state law that requires applicators to notify urban residents when pesticides are sprayed on residents’ lawns, golf courses, parks and rights-of-way. And Dubuque has set aside parks where the use of pesticides is restricted. Other parks are also implementing measures to reduce pesticide use.

more: Some say disease, pesticides are to blame for Iowa’s oak trees.

What are farmers doing to prevent pesticide drift?

Anderson, an ISU field crop agronomist, said farmers pay close attention to wind speed and direction before applying pesticides. And producers are likely to use “ground rigs” instead of plane-mounted sprayers to more precisely apply chemicals near schools and other non-farm areas, she said. Ta.

How do members of Congress try to block state and local pesticide regulations?

Booker said some lawmakers are trying to include local and state action preemptions in the next farm bill, which is currently under consideration. Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group said Dusty Johnson, a South Dakota Republican and the state’s only congressman, is leading the way. Johnson’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

“Whether you’re a conservative who believes in states’ rights and that the federal government shouldn’t dictate to local governments, or whether you’re someone like me who approaches it from an environmental justice perspective, this is something that ‘That should bring people together,’ Booker said.

Why would Congress try to block state and local regulations?

The Environmental Working Group said the effort was supported by agriculture, landscaping and pesticide organizations and companies, including Bayer’s Monsanto, in an effort to “increase pesticide sales and limit legal judgments resulting from pesticide use.” He said that Bayer, for example, agreed to pay up to $10.9 billion to resolve thousands of lawsuits alleging that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, caused cancer. Bayer did not respond to a request for comment.

Donnell Eller covers agriculture, environment and energy for the Register. Contact us at deler@registermedia.com or 515-284-8457.

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