Pests can destroy crops and create various health hazards at your home or business. Pesticides can help prevent these issues, but they also present risks to humans and other animals. One potential danger is a phenomenon called pesticide drift. Read on to learn how to prevent this issue.
What Is Pesticide Drift?
Pesticide drift is the movement of pesticides through the air away from an application area. Drift can happen either during or after the application process. This problem is dangerous because you could expose people, animals, plants or properties that can’t handle pesticides’ effects. What is a safe distance from pesticide drift? One 1977 incident resulted in herbicide drift on school buses nearly three miles away from the application site, leading to a landmark California State Supreme Court decision that upheld citizens’ right to adopt more protective standards than the state and federal government.
The Dangers of Pesticide Drift
We briefly mentioned the primary concerns about pesticide drift above, but let’s take a more in-depth look at what dangers pesticides pose to those exposed.
- Nearby homes, schools and playgrounds: Young children’s bodies and immune systems are still growing, so they can be very fragile, especially if they encounter harmful chemicals.
- Workers in adjacent fields: People who work outside for a living don’t have anywhere to go to escape pesticide drift.
- Nearby wildlife, plants and bodies of water: Just like humans, animals can experience health problems with exposure to pesticides. But you also have to consider their food and water sources. Maybe the animals have no direct exposure, but what if a cow eats pesticide-drenched grass or plants or drinks from a contaminated pond?
- Crops: Agricultural workers must exercise extreme caution with their crops to ensure a successful harvest. Too much or too little water, nutrients or sunlight can be deadly. Exposing a crop to an unapproved pesticide might be fatal.
State and local agencies also spend a lot of time, money and resources every year changing pesticide drift laws to prevent community complaints, which can adversely affect your area’s economy.
Spraying Tips to Prevent Pesticide Drift
When using pesticides, familiarize yourself with your products, equipment and procedures beforehand, so you can help prevent pesticide drift to the best of your ability. Here are some pesticide spraying techniques to help prevent or avoid drift.
- Check the weather before applying. Ideally, you want to spray your pesticides during calm weather conditions with no chance of rain within the next 24 hours. Doing this decreases the risk or wind or rainwater carrying or washing away the pesticides. Additionally, you don’t want to apply pesticides when there is fog or right before a hot weather front comes through your area.
- Before spraying any pesticides, you’ll want to carefully read the labels. By doing so, you will better understand what you can do to avoid pesticide drift, what pesticides your plants and crops can tolerate and how much water you should use to prevent overwatering and runoff.
- Only apply the pesticide directly to the area needing treatment.
- During application, be mindful of the location of storm drains, drainage ditches, gutters or surface waters. If the pesticide makes its way to any water sources, it will quickly and easily cause pesticide drift.
- As soon as you finish applying the pesticide, rinse all the equipment you used to avoid runoff to water bodies or drainage systems.
- If possible, adjust your nozzle and pressure to create a larger droplet size.Bigger spray droplets will fall faster, thus decreasing the risk of any passing wind gusts picking up the droplets.
- If you are spraying an area that borders other properties, avoid spraying in that direction to help cut down on droplets flying into the other property.
- Keep your spraying wand, hose or nozzle as close to the target area as possible to limit the possibility of droplets landing in unwanted places.
- Reduce your spraying pressure. If you’re spraying your pesticide at a high pressure, it has enough power to land in unintended areas. Using lower pressure makes it much easier to control where the droplets will land.
- Consider using drift retardants. These products can help you prevent pesticide drift. Some aren’t compatible with specific pesticides or nozzles, so do your research before using them.
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