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  You are here:  ProgramsPublic Policy InitiativesMaine Board of Pesticides Control ReportsBPC – Spring 2004   
 2003 Blueberry Study Confirms Aerial Drift Minimize

At its January 23, 2004, meeting, BPC water quality specialist Heather Jackson presented results of ongoing studies of water samples and spray drift cards to determine if aerial pesticide applications to blueberry fields are drifting in the vicinity of the Narraguagus and Pleasant Rivers that support Atlantic salmon populations in Washington County. Jackson emphasized the logistical problems of coordinating extensive testing equipment and timing testing to coincide with blueberry spraying. Despite these difficulties, the staff was once again able to document that drift does occur at substantial distances from the application site. Low levels of the organophosphate phosmet (Imidan) were detected 1,000 feet from targeted blueberry fields. Jackson’s report confirmed that this is consistent with previous years’ reports: “In 2003, pesticide drift was detected at approximately 1000 feet from the nearest application area at one site and at approximately 1500 feet from the nearest application area at another site. In 2001, pesticide drift was detected 270 feet to 1500 feet away from the nearest application areas. In 2000, pesticide drift was detected 100 feet to 5100 feet away depending on the particular sampling site.”

Copies of the 2003 and previous years’ reports can be obtained from the BPC office, 287-2731.

Bush Cutbacks Threaten Migrant Worker Pesticide Safety Training

Bush administration cutbacks to AmeriCorps funding are hitting home in Maine in the potential loss or substantial reduction of funds for pesticide safety training for migrant workers and their children. For the past nine years, the Training and Development Corporation (TDC) of Bucksport has utilized AmeriCorps members to provide pesticide safety training seasonally in Aroostook and Washington counties and areas of the Midcoast. The BPC provided the 15% matching funding of approximately $3,000 for the training to proceed. During the summer of 2003, one full-time AmeriCorps employee and two summer interns provided 2,275 hours of service to migrant workers that included pesticide safety training for 451 adults and 239 children. Jack Frost, project coordinator with the TDC, reported to the BPC on January 23 that he had learned that Maine and “18 to 20 other states” are being dropped from this program by AmeriCorps. Frost will reapply to AmeriCorps and is investigating other alternatives, such as funding a single summer intern with the Maine Migrant Worker Health program to do pesticide safety training. Batteese indicated that the BPC probably could continue to fund the $3,000 contribution, but could not make up any of the missing federal funds.

Hospitals Encouraged to Adopt IPM

Acadia Hospital, a 100-bed psychiatric hospital in Bangor, has become the first Maine hospital to adopt a formal Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy regulating pest control in its buildings and on its grounds. Adopted in May 2003, the policy was inspired by and modeled after the BPC’s Standards for Pesticide Applications in Schools regulation. The policy requires use of IPM principles in pesticide applications, using the “least hazardous combination of cultural, physical, biological and/or chemical controls;” the adoption of a site plan and appointment of an IPM coordinator to oversee pest control decisions; and provides for notice by signage at least two days before application as well as 48 hours after application. It restricts indoor pesticide applications to baits and wall void or crack and crevice treatments unless the pest threatens the health and safety of occupants, and restricts outdoor applications to use of nonvolatile liquids, spot injection or granular formulation to minimize pesticide drift. If drift is possible, the IPM coordinator must consider shutting down the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for that area until the danger has passed. All pesticide applications must be performed by licensed personnel, be documented – including retention of a label and Material Safety Data Sheet – and records must be kept for at least two years.

Adoption of the Acadia policy was spearheaded by Thomas Shandera, R.N., Infection Control Coordinator of the hospital. When asked how an Infection Control Coordinator got involved in pesticide policy, Shandera responded that his responsibilities include ensuring the safety of the “environment of care,” and ensuring patient safety – patients should “receive diagnosis and treatment without any negative consequences.” He became concerned particularly with the issue of outdoor pesticide applications, since the hospital grounds include a children’s playground, and staff frequently accompany patients outdoors for walks and group therapy sessions on the grass. He was concerned that pesticides may make behavioral problems more serious because of their effects on the nervous system. Accidental exposure to some pesticides “may cause patients to have more uncontrolled rage or have headaches or vision problems, which could cause them to act in an unsafe way toward themselves or someone else.”

When asked whether he thought similar concerns might motivate a general hospital to adopt an IPM policy, Shandera replied, “Absolutely, I do.” General hospitals need to be concerned about the safety of visitors, particularly where children play on hospital grounds, and patients in a general hospital are “believed to be more compromised physiologically, so any additional input into their bodies could have more serious impacts.”

On January 20, 2004, BPC director Bob Batteese and Dora Mills, M.D., director of the Bureau of Health, forwarded a copy of the Acadia Hospital policy to all Maine hospitals and urged the hospitals to adopt an IPM program, which can “save money and reduce risk.” Citizens interested in encouraging their community hospitals to adopt an IPM program can contact their hospital’s facilities manager or CEO, and call the BPC at 207-287-2731 or e-mail pesticides@maine.gov.

– Sharon Tisher

    

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