Pesticide Air Monitoring Study


In 2007, the Washington State Legislature directed the Department of Health to conduct air monitoring studies of certain pesticides in agricultural areas. The legislature directed the Department of Health to contract with the University of Washington to study organophosphate pesticides and with Washington State University to study methyl isothiocyanate pesticides. The purpose of the pesticide air monitoring was to see if levels detected exceeded levels of public health concern.

The Department of Health held four public meeting to inform the public, local businesses, and other interested parties about this project and its preliminary findings. Meetings were held in Yakima, Granger, and Tumwater between January 2008 and May 2009. Meeting materials were made available in English and Spanish and simultaneous translation into Spanish was provided to Spanish speakers who attended the meetings.

Study Results

Organophosphate Air Monitoring in Yakima Valley and North Central Washington

Coddling moth and other destructive insects are common pests in orchards. The organophosphate insecticides used to control these pests can drift into the air and offsite into the surrounding community. In 2008, studies were conducted by the University of Washington in two orchard regions during the peak application season for these insecticides. The studies investigated whether air concentrations presented a breathing hazard for nearby homes and residential communities.

Methyl isothiocyanate Air Monitoring in South Franklin County

In south Franklin County, new housing and businesses are rapidly expanding into traditional agricultural areas. The use of pesticide fumigants on existing agricultural land raises public health concern for persons living and working nearby. Studies were conducted in this region in 2007 and 2008 by Washington State University to evaluate whether the peak periods of metam sodium soil fumigation caused air pollution at level of human health concern. Residential air monitoring was also conducted in 2008. View our MITC (methyl isothiocyanate) fact sheet (PDF).

MITC Residential Community Air Assessment: Franklin County, WA (2008)

MITC Residential Community Air Assessment: Franklin County, WA (2007)

Near-field Emissions for MITC following Shank Injection and Chemigation Applications of Metam-Sodium (2007)


California Pesticide Air Monitoring

California has conducted extensive air sampling for pesticides. The California Air Resources Board has sampled for 46 different pesticides since the mid -1980's under the Toxic Air Contaminant program. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation works in partnership with the California Air Resources Board to prioritize pesticides for monitoring and to adjust pesticide use to protect air quality in agricultural areas. Monitoring results are at the first website below.

Reducing Pesticide Drift

Community Air Quality

The major causes of air pollution in Washington come from vehicles, boats/ships, wood stoves, wood burning fireplaces, outdoor fires, and gasoline powered yard equipment.

Content Source: Pesticide Program