pesticides

Recorded on: Friday December 4th, 2015

Air Date: Monday December 7th, 2015

Seven times in the past two years, Oregon was the site of bee die-offs involving hundreds of thousands of bees. Each event was associated with the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Bees are vital to a functional ecosystem — and food production.

Darryl Ivy

An Oregon company that sprayed pesticides with a suspended license now faces 180 thousand dollars in fines and a five-year license suspension. It’s the largest penalty for an aerial pesticide sprayer in Oregon.

Lena Jackson

Lead and arsenic used decades ago in pesticides are still lingering in the topsoil of Pacific Northwest apple country. That poses a health risk for children who come in close contact with dirt -- in the backyards and playgrounds developed from former orchards.

Tony Schick / Earthfix

For decades, apple growers in Central Washington sprayed their trees with a misty brew of lead and arsenic to keep pests away. The practice stopped in the mid-20th century. Since then, many of those orchards have been redeveloped -- some as housing subdivisions, schools, and daycare centers. Even though the orchards are long gone, those toxic chemicals remain in the soil.

OPB News

Repeated high-profile incidents of people being sickened by pesticides sprayed from aircraft in Oregon have increased calls for new regulations. But push-back from agricultural and timber industry groups has led to a bill that supporters of stronger rules say won’t solve the problem.

Chafer Machinery

Few people come into contact with farm chemicals the way agricultural workers do. That's why a new health report on a commonly used herbicide is raising special concerns about farmworkers and cancer.

For years, researchers have seen glyphosate as one of the least harmful herbicides. It doesn’t cause very many acute poisonings. But now the World Health Organization has said there’s “limited evidence” long-term exposure can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma in people.

A bill introduced last week in Salem would give Oregonians and lawmakers more tools to regulate aerial spraying of chemical pesticides on private forest land.

Lisa Arkin is Executive Director of Beyond Toxics, based in Eugene. She says the bill, called the Public Health and Water Resources Protection Act, was inspired by cases in Triangle Lake and Curry County where residents believe they were poisoned by spraying of pesticides on nearby private forestland.

oregon.gov

Over the past five years Oregonians have reported pesticide misuse, now there is a clear path to address their concerns. The State has created a document describing how information is exchanged and which state agency will be assigned to a person's case. Oregon's Pesticide Analytical and Response Center, or

PARC, serves as the liaison between state agencies and citizens. Dale Mitchell is with the Department of Agriculture. He says people need to know who to contact and what to do if they are exposed to pesticides.

Tony Schick / Earthfix

Forest owners in the Northwest use helicopters to spray weed killer after logging.
It’s an effective way to kill plants like blackberry and alder that compete with the next crop of tree seedlings. But it’s controversial. Last year people near the coastal Oregon city of Gold Beach claimed they were poisoned. State officials and timber lobbyists blamed that incident on mistakes by the pilot. But sometimes, communities report drift even when timber companies appear to be following the rules.

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