Valley air quality improving, but one group says pesticides used by farmers cause concerns

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Central Valley is enjoying some of the best air quality in years thanks to a wet winter, a mild summer so far and a cut in pollution.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation monitors pollution from pesticides used by farmers.

The results of their 2018 study released this week show pesticides used in parts of the Central Coast and the Central Valley are below health screening levels for the most part, but there are still some concerns.

"There are also types of pesticides can contribute to the form of ozone and smog. And that causes more of our regional problems so there are issues on multiple levels," said Genevieve Gale, Central Valley Air Coalition.

The Central Valley Air Coalition is a non-profit group working to create stronger air quality policies.

They believe rural areas of the Central Valley are a concern because they are so close to farming areas where pesticides are used frequently by growers.

"When it comes to agricultural toxics there are about 50 active ingredients in pesticides that are considered toxic air contaminants," said Gale.

CVAQ suggests farmers work with local and state leaders on notifications, buffer zones, and alternatives to pesticides that are not as harmful.

The Fresno County Farm Bureau says growers do just that to protect near-by communities and field workers.

"California is the most strict in the nation when it comes to both the pesticide regulation process and as well as the oversight of the application. And so it is everything from state agencies as well as all the way down to local agencies that play a major role in that," said Ryan Jacobsen, Fresno County Farm Bureau.

He pointed out farmers are using different types of pesticides that are safer to Mother Nature and consumers.

"It is absolutely critical for number one for our products to remain the safest to be found in the world, so that is very key as well. And as well that we are not only protect those individuals on our farms but the community as a whole and those who consume our products," said Jacobsen.
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