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Media Contact: Glenn Brank
November 29, 2007 (07-14)


(Editors/reporters: See county statistics and rankings, PDF (35 kb) and the 2006 Pesticide Use Report Summary with "top" data lists.)

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Pesticide Regulation today reported 2006 pesticide use statistics that showed continued progress toward safer, less toxic pest management.

Overall statewide pesticide use declined by nearly six million pounds from 2005 to 2006 (from 195.3 million to 189.6 million). While use increased in landscape maintenance, public health and other categories, production agriculture saw a 10 million pound drop.

Use of many high-toxicity chemicals dropped for the third consecutive year.

"DPR works hard to promote least-toxic pest management, and our efforts are paying off," said DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam. "At the same time, we will continue to strive for long-term success in pest management, and we have more work to do.

"For example, we hope to see further improvements based on two recent initiatives," Warmerdam continued. "First, we’ve started a streamlined registration process, thanks to legislation signed by the Governor, that encourages industry to bring less toxic chemicals to market." (See sidebar.)

"Second, the Governor’s Budget has revived our Alliance grant program, providing almost $600,000 for projects that reduce pesticide risks, and use, on the farm and in urban areas."

No rankings changed from 2005 to 2006 among the top five counties, in order of most pesticide pounds applied. Fresno was first, followed by Kern, Tulare, San Joaquin, and Madera. All are agricultural powerhouses.

DPR analysts note that pesticide use varies from year to year based on many factors, including types of crops, economics, acreage planted, and weather conditions.

Even under similar conditions, pest problems may vary. For example, cool wet spring weather often prompts increased use of sulfur and other fungicides, as was the case in 2005. But similar weather conditions in 2006 did not produce as much vineyard disease in most areas, so wine grape growers actually used less sulfur. (Total pesticide use in wine grapes dropped by about 8.5 million pounds.)

Other details from DPR’s 2006 pesticide use summary, with comparisons to use in 2005:

  • Fumigant use decreased in poundage (down 1.7 million pounds), but increased in cumulative acreage (up 28,000 acres).
  • Use of oil pesticides increased by 6.4 million pounds and 472,000 acres. Most oils serve as an alternative to high-toxicity pesticides.
  • Use of insecticide organophosphate and carbamate chemicals – most of which are older compounds of high regulatory concern – continued to decline. For 2006, use declined by 635,000 pounds and 668,000 acres.
  • Chemicals classified as potential carcinogens declined by 1.8 million pounds and 288,000 acres.
  • Chemicals classified as reproductive toxins declined by 2 million pounds and 350,000 acres.
  • Chemicals classified as toxic air contaminants decreased by 1 million pounds and 106,000 acres. Ground water contaminant pesticides increased 124,000 pounds, but acreage remained about the same.

DPR has the most extensive pesticide use reporting system in the United States, and it supports one of the most comprehensive pesticide regulatory programs in the world. Use data support a variety of regulatory efforts, including compliance efforts for clean air and water laws, estimating dietary risks, protecting workers in the field, preserving endangered species, assisting product registration and review, and helping local pesticide law enforcement.

One of six departments and boards within the California Environmental Protection Agency, DPR regulates the sale and use of pesticides to protect people and the environment.