Prepare for Pesticide Spray Season - Part IX: Spray Drift With no Apparent Damage

| 9/23/2013 10:35:00 AM

sleuth“Well, I don’t see any damage!"  This statement referring to possible pesticide drift is used over and over each spray season.  The wind is up, the pesticide is applied upwind of your property, you get a very strong whiff of chemical, but days afterward you see no apparent damage to any foliage downwind of the chemical application.  You make the effort to communicate with the spray applicator responsible for the application about your pesticide drift concerns and how the smell was so strong. You are very concerned you have been a victim of pesticide drift.  But, not surprisingly, you are met with the response, “Well, I don’t see any damage!”

Trust your instinct. If the wind is blowing towards your property even less than 10 mph the pesticide will drift onto your property even if you see no apparent damage hours and days after the application. The rule is:  If you are not willing to stand on your property downwind of the pesticide application, you must suspect drift.

Actual Pesticide Drift Case

Homeowners in Illinois were concerned each year about the pesticide applications happening in the field bordering their property. Even in calm winds, they could smell the chemical in the air. When they called the FS office responsible for applying the chemicals with their concern, they were told all the usual buzz words – new spray nozzles, large droplets, anti-drift added to the tank mix, and just smelling the chemical doesn’t mean it is drifting.  In other words, FS felt there was no drift happening and they were taking all precautions necessary. And, there was no apparent damage after their pesticide applications.

But that all changed when an application was made with a wind less than 10 mph blowing towards the house. The smell of chemical hung heavy over the farmstead. Tired of not knowing for sure and trusting instinct, the homeowners sent a sample of foliage to a lab to test for glyphosate. The test came back positive. The foliage was from apple trees but the trees showed no apparent damage. A person would never have known the apple trees had been hit with glyphosate. In fact, the level of glyphosate found on the apple trees was in EXCESS of EPA allowable limits making the apples not fit for consumption. And still no apparent damage.

An official Pesticide Incident Complaint was filed with the Illinois Department of Agriculture and even a month after the application, the IDOA found glyphosate residue on the foliage and the applicator received a pesticide drift violation.

There are some important things to take away from this actual pesticide drift incident in Illinois.

9/25/2013 1:16:54 PM

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