On January 8, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced nearly half a million dollars in grants will be awarded to three universities to reduce the risks of pesticide use. With the help of this funding, Louisiana State University, the University of Vermont, and the Pennsylvania State University will implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices.
IPM aims to develop simple, environmentally friendly practices that reduce the threat of pests while sustaining or improving crop yield. One of the EPA’s top IPM goals is to maintain bee populations. Bees are an important part of crop production, but are declining in numbers due to factors like pesticide exposure, habitat loss, and parasites.
“These collaborative projects can provide innovative solutions to reduce pesticide risks to pollinators and crops,” explained James Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Initiatives such as these will encourage others to adopt promising technologies and practices across the nation to reduce pesticide risks while maximizing crop production and protecting public health.”
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), exposure to pesticides poses health risks to employees who mix, load, and apply these chemicals. Workers entering sprayed fields, nearby residents, and family members exposed to pesticides brought home on workers’ clothing are also at risk of pesticide exposure.
Inform crews of the hazards of pesticide exposure, encourage them to wash up and change clothes before heading home, and equip them with personal protective equipment like respiratory protection, gloves, and safety glasses or goggles.