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California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation Issues Pesticide Enforcement Guidance Amid COVID-19 Pandemic 

(en español)

For Immediate Release:
May 7, 2020

Media Contacts:
Erin Curtis, California Environmental Protection Agency
(916) 322-7350 
Charlotte Fadipe, Department of Pesticide Regulation
(916) 445-3974

SACRAMENTO — The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), which is a department within the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), issued guidance today to local county agricultural commissioners on expectations around the enforcement of pesticide regulations near schools and homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidance, issued at the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom, clarifies existing legal requirements limiting pesticide use near school sites that continue in operation. While schools are physically closed, many continue to perform critical functions, such as providing on-site meals, homework assignments, and other services. 
“These are unprecedented times in our state and working together to ensure the health and safety of schoolchildren and families, as well as continuing to support growers, is a priority,” said Jared Blumenfeld, California Secretary for Environmental Protection.  
DPR is directing all commissioners to: 
  • Strictly enforce all applicable pesticide health protections around homes and schools during the COVID-19 emergency. Pesticide applications are prohibited when there is a reasonable possibility of contamination of people not involved in the pesticide application process.
  • Continue to work with schools to understand when children and others are likely to be present at school sites and restrict pesticide applications, as appropriate, accordingly.
  • Take a strict approach to assessing penalties. Violations that occur near homes or schools during the COVID-19 emergency should be considered among the most serious and should carry fines at the top of the range. This could mean fines of up to $5,000 per person per incident.
Also, DPR is increasing its enforcement oversight to: 
  • Enhance the transparency of pesticide applications that occur near homes and schools.
  • Ensure that CACs prioritize investigations of violations near homes and schools. DPR may refer violations to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution as appropriate. 
  • Work with community residents to facilitate the reporting of pesticide incidents. The Department will continue to promote use of the California’s System for Pesticide Incident Reporting (CASPIR) mobile application for quick and anonymous reporting of pesticide incidents.
California’s pesticide rules and regulations were designed to limit certain pesticide applications that could expose school-aged children, while also supporting growers and their ability to protect their crops. Local county agricultural commissioners are responsible for enforcing these rules at the county level.