Pesticides & Pesticide Drift 101

What is Pesticide Drift?

Pesticide drift happens when pesticides move through the air from the intended application site to places they shouldn’t be – homes, schools, neighboring farms, playgrounds, bee yards, etc.

What are the possible side effects from pesticide drift?

Short-term impacts: headaches and nausea to chronic impacts like cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption.  

Acute dangers: such as nerve, skin, and eye irritation and damage, headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and systemic poisoning - can sometimes be dramatic, and even fatal.  

Why is it a problem?

Pesticide drift can cause economic, environmental, and human health damage. Farmers are frequently unable to sell crops that have been damaged by drift, especially if the crops were certified organic. Livestock can become ill, and sometimes die, when exposed to drifting pesticides. People can experience short term health issues such as burning skin, vomiting, headache, dizziness, and difficulty breathing, and long term conditions including asthma, fatigue, depression, infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, some forms of cancer, increased chemical sensitivity, and neurological impairments. 

What should I do if pesticide drift has impacted me or my family? 

  1. REPORT IT IMMEDIATELY!!! We know it's tough to deal with government bureaucracy sometimes, but reporting it will help us all by keeping track of the number of drift incidents in the state. Hopefully, it will also help you find a resolution to the problem you're facing. Remember Toxic Taters is here to help. In Minnesota, reports should be made to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/chemicals/pesticides/complaints.aspx. On the White Earth Indian Reservation call the Pesticide Coordinator at 218-935-2488 ext. 2115. 
  2. Call a doctor immediately and report exposure. Ask to have your report put in your medical file. Ask what symptoms you should watch for and what medical remedies are available.
  3. If people were exposed to drift, put any clothing worn at the time of exposure into an airtight plastic bag and put the bag in the freezer. Provide this bag to the investigator.
  4. Document everything in writing. Include dates, times, and as much detail as you are able as soon as possible.
  5. For drift incidents in Minnesota, call Toxic Taters at 218-375-2600 or 218-850-3629 for additional information and support.
  6. For drift incidents in Minnesota, call EPA Region 5 to report the incident 312-353-2000 or 1-800-621-8431

What should I record if I or my family experience pesticide drift?

If you or your family experience pesticide drift, keep a record of everything you notice during and after the incident.

  1. Date, time and details of the incident, including weather (wind direction and speed/strength, precipitation at the time of drift and between drift incident and sampling, and temperature) and any odors in the air (like sweet, sulfur, skunk, other).
  2. Affected crops and other land -- include photos
  3. Pesticide applicator name, contact information, prior notification, spray plane description, and FAA registration number
  4. Owner of the land intentionally sprayed and types of crops sprayed
  5. Who was affected; how they were exposed; symptoms; medical attention sought
  6. Chemical compounds involved, if known
  7. Organic certifier test results and notification information (if you are an organic grower)
  8. MN Department of Agriculture Investigation: dates, times, samples, test results, orders, investigation case file (after release)
  9. White Earth Natural Resources Investigation: dates, times, samples, test results, orders, investigation case file (after release)
  10. Potentially provable damages (value of crop ordered destroyed, documented loss of sales, loss of organic certification, response costs)
  11. All documents and correspondence, including email, related to the drift incident

*Note: Different records are needed to document health impacts, damage to conventional and organic crops. When in doubt, keep all your records and communications. 

Toxic Taters Brochure (PDF)

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  • published this page in Learn 2015-06-10 16:15:56 -0500

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