(August 17, 2012, EL CENTRO) – Imperial County Agricultural Commissioner Connie Valenzuela spoke to the board about a study recently published by the California Department of Public Health that reported more children were at risk from agricultural pesticides.
Valenzuela contested the findings stating the discrepancies were many including Imperial Valley’s data being omitted especially since the county has such a clean record, house hold chemical injuries are lumped in with the report and that three-fourths of the recorded illnesses were school custodial employees most likely injured with cleaning supplies.
In fact, Valenzuela reported to the board she found out about the report by accident. She says the state is guessing what is happening at schools because most of the data was 15 years old. She said that the state has an 80% match with data and a 20% guess, but with something as critical as children and pesticides there needs to be 100% fact.
She explained that the county identifies each spray by gate location, they know when, where, and what chemical was used.
In answer to if schools were notified when pesticide was being applied in their vicinity, Valenzuela answered, “No, but they have our number and we get calls all the time about spraying. Plus, the pesticides we use next to schools are not the same pesticides used away from school campuses.”
“We don’t want new regulations that don’t work and don’t fix anything.” Valenzuela told the board.”Science and facts only, if they would include the county that would help their accuracy.”
The commissioner further explained that children were not getting sick at schools. It was while at home that most pesticide related illnesses occurred for children. Valenzuela said that in restricted areas, that is, areas close to schools and homes, they required a permit and 24 hours notice to spray but in non-restricted areas only an operators’ ID.
Valenzuela said for these reports to be accurate they need to base studies on science and fact and not average or fill in missing data with guesswork, not to skew or sensationalize data, and to notify agencies of articles and studies that impact their areas of responsibility, including involving the ag commissioners as active partners on all studies of pesticide use in California.