Hawaii State Report Confirms Pesticide Problem on Kauai
April 8, 2016
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The recently released State/County Joint Fact Finding report validates Kauai resident concerns about the large scale use of restricted use pesticides by the agrochemical industry. The report makes specific recommendations to the State and County that include mandatory disclosure of pesticide use, water soil and air testing for pesticide drift and buffer zones around sensitive areas to protect against pesticide drift.
The report also strongly refutes the industry and government statements that the sickening of the students and teachers at Waimea Canyon Middle School was caused by “stinkweed”. The report says clearly that nearby pesticide spraying was a much more likely cause of this incident.
There were 3 situations of possible pesticide contamination at Waimea Canyon Middle School: “Waimea Canyon (Middle) School is situated on the western boundary of Waimea Town. There are seed company operations on both sides of Waimea Town. In 2006 and 2008, there were events at the school during which students and teachers were sickened by odors. Some went directly home. Others were evaluated by Kauaʻi Fire Department Emergency Medical Technician and taken for care at the neighboring hospital. There was also a complaint related to pesticide use investigated in 2007.”
It is likely that pesticide drift caused students and teachers to get sick at Waimea Canyon Middle School. “While there is no definitive cause for the heath symptoms reported in Waimea, they were far more likely related to pesticide exposures than from exposure to stinkweed organics, other plants or their decomposition products.”
Small low doses of pesticide exposure over time is a critical issue for children: “There is a growing body of medical literature demonstrating associations between health problems from low-level chronic exposures that accumulate over time. Such exposures may be from legacy or currently used pesticides. While the EPA has issued guidelines regarding toxic levels of acute exposure, data is only now being published regarding chronic low dose exposure and the association with chronic disease. There are particular concerns with respect to those exposures for pregnant women and children.”
The report stated: “Because of the small populations involved and the lack of fully reliable and accurate health data, the information we assembled does not show that current pesticide use by seed companies and Kauaʻi Coffee plays a role in adverse health on Kauaʻi. The medical literature and limited local information we reviewed make a compelling case for the need to collect better data in the future and, most importantly, to systematically test the environment and population for possible causes, including possible harmful exposures.”
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