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Competency Area 8: Protecting Humans from Pesticide Exposure

PO 46. Be familiar with spray drift and problems drift can cause for applicators and others.

Drift occurs when air currents cause pesticide to be deposited outside a target application site. It may occur as solid or liquid particles at the time of application or as vapors during or after application. Any pesticide that is carried out of the target area by wind or any air current may damage non-target plants, contaminate surface waters, harm wild and domesticated animals, or harm people. Herbicide drift tends to be the most noticeable because of its visible effect on plants. “Invisible” effects can also be bad. For example, any pesticide drift might produce illegal residues on a neighbor’s crop; even legal residues could be a problem for an organic producer. Because drift can harm, civil, criminal, or administrative penalties (such as fines) may result. Note that both the applicator AND the person (if any) who directs the applicator to use the pesticide can be held responsible for drift. Legal problems may not be the only costs associated with drift. If drift does cause harm, the injured party may choose to sue. Your insurance company may raise your deductible and premiums. Finally, there is the intangible cost of strained relations with neighbors and your clients if drift harms them or their property.