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Analysis Says Pesticide Drift a Problem in Central Minnesota

May 18, 2012

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. – Communities in Central Minnesota face frequent exposure to multiple pesticides in the air they breathe, according to a new report. Linda Wells, Midwest organizer for the Pesticide Action Network (PANNA) says some concerned residents asked for the monitoring, which found a common potato fungicide in 64 percent of air samples taken near their homes.

"Unfortunately, with this kind of drift, what we suspect is volatilization, which means that the chemical chlorothalonil, once applied, will volatilize on a hot day and can travel miles from where it is originally applied."

These findings have prompted PANNA to ask the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a careful evaluation of long-term exposure of the pesticide, says Wells.

"We're also asking the Department of Agriculture to look into complaints around chlorothanlonil and other pesticide drift happening in the area. It's happening on a regular basis, and it shouldn't be."

Among those who have had to deal with the drift from the fungicide is Carol Ashley of Park Rapids. Ashley says she's considering moving because of severe allergy issues.

"The other health problems some of us have noticed, other people as well as ourselves having thyroid problems. We assume it's from that. I've had tumors on my adrenal and thyroid glands, and it'd be nice to know where that comes from, and unfortunately, you know, there's no way to prove it."

Chlorothalonil is the most commonly used fungicide on Minnesota potato fields. The EPA classifies it as a probable carcinogen that is highly toxic when inhaled.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN