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DPR Announces Enhanced Pesticide Protections: Chloropicrin

Contact: Charlotte Fadipe
916-445-3974 |
January 14, 2015 (15-1)

En Español

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has announced new rules for the use of the pesticide chloropicrin, providing enhanced protections for people who work and live near fields treated with the fumigant.

Chloropicrin is injected into the soil to control pests which threaten a variety of crops including strawberries, raspberries, almonds, tomatoes, peppers, and melons. The fumigant is used in many counties including Ventura, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Joaquin, and Fresno.

“Once again California is ensuring that the communities where we produce and grow food, are protected from harm,” said DPR Director Brian Leahy. “These new measures are an additional safeguard for nearby residents. Our regulatory program is the most stringent in the nation and sets an example for other states to follow.”

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Under state law, chloropicrin is a restricted material that can only be used by trained licensed professionals. They can only apply it in compliance with restrictions specified in a permit that is issued by a local county agricultural commissioner. These conditions are designed to protect against excessive exposure to chloropicrin which can cause eye or respiratory irritation.

Overall, the new restrictions, announced by DPR, are more protective than those at the federal level which went into effect in 2012. DPR devised these restrictions after extensive public outreach and comment in 2013. The new measures include:

  • Larger buffer zones: DPR has developed buffer zones for chloropicrin that are often larger than the ones currently required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.EPA) label. In some cases the new buffer zones have doubled in size. Larger buffer zones will apply when Totally Impermeable Film (TIF) tarps are not used. TIF tarps are a technological advance that is more effective in controlling fumigant emissions in soil.
    • A buffer zone is an area that surrounds a field that has been treated with a pesticide; certain activities are restricted within the area for a specified period of time to protect human health.
  • Minimum buffer zones: Currently, the minimum buffer zone required when chloropicrin is applied is 25 feet. DPR‘s new measures will require a minimum buffer zone of 25-100 feet, depending on whether a tarp is used and the kind of tarp utilized.
  • Limiting acreage: DPR is reducing the size of the field where chloropicrin can be used. Current U.S. EPA labels allow chloropicrin applications up to 160 acres per day. DPR is reducing the daily acreage limit to 40 acres per day. If TIF tarps are used the application can be up to 60 acres per day. TIF tarps are tarps that are highly effective in controlling fumigant emissions in soil.
  • Notification: In some cases, current requirements specify that homes and businesses within a certain distance of treated fields be notified that fumigation will occur. Notification is only required to be in English. DPR will require that notification also be made in Spanish.
  • Notice of intent requirements: DPR will require that growers provide the local county agricultural commissioner details of the upcoming fumigation at least 48 hours before the scheduled application. Current regulation requires a 24-hour notice.

The full list of the new mitigation measures and previous documents about Chloropicrin Mitigation can be found online here.

DPR will make these new measures a statewide requirement, but intends to put them into effect as soon as possible by providing interim permits conditions for the county agricultural commissioners to implement at the local level.

Quick Facts:

  • Chloropicrin has been used in the United States since 1975.
  • In 2012 chloropicrin was used on about 67,000 acres in California.
  • The Golden State has more than 9 million acres of irrigated land for farming according to the California Department of Conservation.

The new restrictions on chloropicrin are the latest action by DPR to ensure public health protection. Last year, the Department proposed that chlorpyrifos be made a California-restricted material, which means that only licensed professionals with a permit from a local county agricultural commissioner would be allowed to use products containing the pesticide.


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