Pesticide Drift Exposure Response Act – SB 391 Florez-Escutia
In the past four years, California has experienced numerous incidents where pesticide use had drifted outside the area of application. These drift incidents have exposed well over a thousand people to pesticides, resulting in short and longterm illnesses. Hundreds of thousands of people in California live in areas where they are at risk of health effects from pesticide drift. Frequently the communities most affected by pesticide drift are low income communities with limited access to medical care.
As a result of these mass poisonings, a number of environmental health and justice organizations including PSR-LA, the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and Californians for Pesticide Reform came together to push for better emergency responses to drift incidents.
This October, a coalition of farm worker, environmental health and rural organizations applauded passage of the Pesticide Drift Exposure Response Act, SB 391 (Florez-Escutia), which will provide for improved response to pesticide drift incidents and pay the uncompensated and acute medical bills of victims of exposure.
“We are thrilled that this law passed,” said Martha Guzman, Legislative Advocate for California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. “This is one step towards addressing the serious problem of responding to pesticide drift in our state. We look forward to making more progress in preventing these exposures from occurring in the first place.”
“This law is a good first step in protecting our rural communities,” said Teresa DeAnda, Central Valley Representative for the statewide coalition Californians for Pesticide Reform which strongly supported the law. “We hope that it will raise the profile of pesticide drift as a serious risk to public health in the Central Valley and other agricultural areas in the state.”
The Pesticide Drift Exposure Response Act (SB391 Florez-Escutia) will ensure that the victims of pesticide drift incidents are properly responded to and treated with respect. Many victims have been hosed down naked in front of others with a fire hose or left with hundreds of dollars worth of medical expenses that are never reimbursed. SB 391 will prevent the ill treatment of these victims and proper response to each incident.
The Pesticide Drift Exposure Response Act will establish a reimbursement process to pay for the uncompensated and acute medical bills of victims of pesticide incidents and ensure proper response to pesticide drift incidents are included in counties’ Hazardous Materials Response Plans.
PSR members sent over 250 letters and faxes to the legislature, Governor and to Cal EPA chief Terry Taminan in support of the Pesticide Drift Exposure Response Act. More than 45 organizations supported the ill, including California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Californians for Pesticide Reform, Pesticide Action Network, United Farm Workers of America, California Medical Association, and the grower-organization Community Alliance with Family Farmers