Monday, September 13, 2010
As the state Department of Pesticide Regulation considers approving methyl iodide, anti-pesticide activists are trumpeting a new study showing the controversial strawberry fumigant's potential for air and water contamination.
"New evidence from Florida shows one of the pesticide’s breakdown products present in groundwater at levels that pose threats to children," Pesticide Watch reports. "The results cast serious doubt on growers’ ability to use methyl iodide without contaminating groundwater."
The study also shows that air near the fumigated fields "contains methyl iodide at levels posing health risks to community residents and farmworkers in nearby fields," despite the use of a special tarp to control drift, Pesticide Watch adds.
The Florida air and water monitoring report were funded by pesticide maker Arysta as a condition of methyl iodide's approval in that state.
The Central Coast Region of the California Regional Water Resources Control Board cites concerns that the fumigant is "a known carcinogen, neurotoxin, and thyroid disruptor, has ability to cause spontaneous abortion late in pregnancy."
If approved for use in California, methyl iodide would likely be applied on strawberry fields in Monterey County, including Castroville and Moss Landing. DPR is expected to make a decision within the next few weeks.