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Official Language: Recommendations to DPR regarding Chloropicrin

July 8, 2013

The Department of Pesticide Regulation is taking recommendations on control and regulation measures for the fumigant pesticide chloropicrin until July 31, 2013.  Below you will find the official language of the letter submitted to DPR on behalf of CCEJN.  We invite you to use similar recommendations, or take the language to submit your own letters to DPR.  For any more questions please write comments below.

June 18, 2013

Central California Environmental Justice Network
4270 N. Blackstone Ave #212
Fresno, CA 93726

Brian Leahy
Director
California Department of Pesticide Regulation
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015
Sacramento, CA 95812
bleahy@cdpr.ca.gov

Sent via email

Dear Director Leahy,

Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN) was formed in 2000 as a network of organizations looking to strive for environmental justice in the San Joaquin Valley.  The network helps to bring a voice to traditionally ignored, misrepresented, and overburdened communities that have continuously been affected intensely by environmental hazards.  Hazards that generally spring from industrial and agricultural sources.  Currently, we have identified another one of these hazards that disproportionately harms the populations of the San Joaquin Valley—that hazard is the chemical Chloropicrin—due to its high toxicity and its likelihood to drift onto residences, schools, and other workers.  In lieu of your department’s efforts to adopt new mitigation and control measure proposals, CCEJN would like to make some formal recommendations to your plans.

  1. Carcinogenicity:  The Department of Pesticide Regulations must accept that chloropicrin is a carcinogen and implement stronger protection measures demanded by this designation.  This step serves to preserve the scientific integrity of DPR and better protects communities across the state.  As we know DPR scientists and scientists from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment have determined that chloropicrin is a carcinogen—it is up to management now, to accept these findings and designate chloropicrin as such.
  1. Buffer Zones: In regards to the proposed buffer zones surrounding the application site, CCEJN was disappointed to see that a 100 percentile level of protection was not mentioned during the community hearings.  We are especially concerned about this lack of consideration, because during the risk assessment that DPR scientists undertook a discovery was made that only a concentration of 2.7ppb is safe for humans.  We understand that the department has chosen to increase the concentration regulation to 73ppb—an increase of almost 25 fold. This increase was an administrative decision made by DPR officials that allowed no public input or comments. We are uncomfortable thinking that 5-20 out of 100 chloropicrin applications will reach an already heightened concentration at the edge of the buffer zone.  Because we feel that the community has already compromised and given too much on that 73ppb concentration regulation, we ask that your department compromises with the community about adopting a 100 percentile level of protection.
  2. Sensory Irritation Monitoring: CCEJN demands that more consideration and discussion is given to the Sensory Irritation Monitoring that would ultimately lead to the disengagement of this practice and replaced with real-time air monitoring technology.  We make this demand because of the three following reasons:
    i.  This monitoring is dishonest and violates any and all ethical research standards.  Harming a subject in order to acquire any information or data is inherently prohibited under any practical standards of research ranging in fields from medicine, academia, or social sciences.  This practice is a violation of human rights and quite simply is not clever.  As citizens, we hold DPR and U.S. EPA officials to a higher standard to identify a more ethical and practical response to monitoring.
    ii.  Any results acquired from this practice are not generalizable to the overall populations that live, work, or play around application sites.  There are too many unclear factors about the subject that will disqualify his/her expertise on symptoms of chloropicrin exposure: including the amount of time that subject spends monitoring, individual characteristics of the subject (i.e. lack of asthma), and previous and/or continuous exposure of the chemical, that may yield a higher tolerance or resistance from the subject’s sensory reactions.  In essence it is impossible to determine how a whole population will react to a chemical by the selection of one individual for testing.  Any data acquired from this practice is useless in predicting the population’s reaction.
    iii.  This practice creates a legitimate conflict of interests between the subject and the data he/she is trying to gather.  For instance, the current regulation states that an applicator or an employee of the applicator must be the subject and deem if an emergency response should be triggered.  However, there is no authority that oversees and validates the decision of the applicator him/herself to enact emergency response procedures.  Another instance may be that the subject is a person of such characteristics that would yield intimidation to speak up and mention wrong-doing (i.e. monolingual Spanish speaking, or undocumented worker that fears retaliation from employer).
    CCEJN understands that this practice is accepted under current U.S. EPA regulations and that the proposed DPR regulations are more strict and comprehensive than the U.S. EPA regulations.  However, we also understand that DPR holds the ability to place even stricter regulations in this proposal and should remove this option altogether as a means for gathering data that would trigger emergency response procedures.
  3. Total Impermeable Film: The current DPR proposal contains 3 different buffer zones for chloropicrin applications that are determined by the tarp used to cover application sites.  As a community group we are unsure that there needs to be 3 different types of applications, untarped, standard tarped, and Total Impermeable Film, with different buffer zones for all three.  Traditionally DPR has instructed Agricultural Commissioners to take the strictest regulations whenever there exists a dispute between the regulation and the label.  It seems to us that a similar mind frame can be applied here—resulting in the strictest of these three methods that would yield the most protection.  TIF technology is progressive and available and should be required for all fumigant applications.  The reluctance of the department to adopt this method, speaks to the resistance from the department to apply progressive technology to the agricultural industry.  This also sends a message to community groups disclaiming any intention from DPR to move to safer agricultural practices that are currently available or will surge in the future. Furthermore, adopting a TIF only application method will help the understaffed Agricultural Commissioner Offices reduce paperwork, confusion, and make government more transparent and efficient.

Central California Environmental Justice Network would sincerely like to thank you for holding public hearings on these proposals.  We ask that you take our recommendations into careful consideration as you move forward and adopt control measures.  We would also like to invite you to continue this discussion with us and contact us with any questions or concerns (559-485-1416 or cesar.campos.12@outlook.com).

Respectfully,

Cesar Campos
Coordinator
Central California Environmental Justice Network

cc. Linda O’Connell, loconnell@cdpr.ca.gov

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**EDIT**
July 19, 2013

Yesterday, the Department of Pesticide Regulation announced that it will extend it’s public comment period until August 31, 2013.  You still have time to fill out the individual petition that demand stricter regulations on Chloropicrin:  http://action.panna.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13678&utm_source=action&utm_medium=alert&utm_content=food&utm_campaign=fumigants

The existing petition is from PANNA, a coalition member of Californians for Pesticide Reform–our long time partner agency.
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