Tests Find Methyl Bromide Drifting Into Mobile Home Park

On Aug. 21, 1997, owners of the Nakama Ranch began fumigating a 90-acre strawberry field in Camarillo, Calif., with methyl bromide. The field is next to the Lamplighter Mobile Home Estates, whose residents, concerned about the dangers of exposure to the acutely toxic pesticide, had appealed to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to stop the fumigation. DPR denied the appeal, and fumigation proceeded, 10 acres at a time, through Sept. 8.

In response to residents’ concerns, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) sampled the air during and after the fumigation of three of the 10-acre parcels, to determine if methyl bromide was drifting from the field into the mobile home park.

Air sampling began at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, and continued through 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 9, for a total monitoring time of almost 70 consecutive hours. Samples were taken with stainless-steel, silicon-lined Summa canisters, placed on Lot 216 in the mobile home park. The samples were then analyzed by an independent laboratory.

The results clearly show that methyl bromide drifted from the field onto the Lamplighter property, and remained in the air for three days.

While none of the levels measured exceeded DPR’s regulatory standard for agricultural uses of methyl bromide, all samples exceeded the state’s stricter Proposition 65 warning level for indoor use of the fumigant.

How dangerous are these levels? This question is more difficult to answer, and is a matter of continued disagreement between public health advocates and state pesticide regulators.

People living near pesticide applications have a right to know what they are being exposed to. This memo not only explains what our monitors found, but compares our findings to the safety standards set by the state and the Minimal Risk Levels established by the federal government.

View and Download the report here: Tests Find Methyl Bromide Drifting Into Mobile Home Park

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