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California gets tougher on use of pesticides near schools

FILE -- In this Sept. 25, 2001, file photo, a crop dusting plane from Blair Air Service dusts cotton crops in Lemoore, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian, File)

California regulators have announced a new rule that bans farmers from using certain pesticides near schools and day care centers.

The Department of Pesticide Regulation announced the new rule takes effect Jan.1.

It will prohibit farmers from spraying a variety of pesticides within a quarter mile of public K-12 schools and licensed day care centers from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the school week.

According to documents released by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, growers will now be required to provide schools with an annual list of pesticides planned for use within a quarter mile. There are additional restrictions on fumigant pesticides, which can’t be used within a 36-hour period before a school day.

Glenn Fankhauser, agricultural commissioner for Kern County, says the area's growers are not new to stiff restrictions when it comes to pesticide use. For over a decade, growers who have fields near school zones in Kern County have been restricted from spraying pesticides while school is in session or during a school-sponsored event.

They are also not allowed to spray aerial applications of restricted materials within 1/4 mile of a residential area, occupied labor camp or other areas designated by the commissioner.

Fankhauser said if growers do not comply with these restrictions, they could face fines up to $500.

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