Prevention of Occupational Exposure to Pesticide Drift

Pesticide drift is a long-standing issue in the Pacific Northwest, especially for the tree fruit industry and workforce. This project aims to understand the mechanisms of pesticide drift exposure among agricultural workers and prevent such exposures in the future. To accomplish this, we are working with the Washington State Department of Health and Washington State University (WSU) AgWeatherNet to determine the probability of drift events due to environmental conditions during spraying, develop a predictive model, and conduct field studies to validate our model. Our drift determinant model will assist orchardists in assessing risks for certain weather forecasts.

We will continue to explore the relationship between wind and speed direction and drift events using field data collected. Nine field trials were completed in collaboration with WSU and a manuscript is currently in-preparation to report these findings and compare results with our WSU colleagues. A promising direction is to use higher time resolution from historical weather data (at network weather and on-site low-cost weather stations) to improve understanding of drift-prone weather conditions. We anticipate the incorporation of a novel metric known as wind ramping—or the magnitude, duration, and intensity of wind changes—into decision making around pesticide application. We are also currently integrating our study findings into WSDA courses "WPS - Train the Trainer", "Alternative Sprayers - New Technology", and "Sprayer Application Equipment & Best Management Practices."

Principal Investigators: Richard Fenske, Ph.D., MPH and Edward Kasner, Ph.D., MPH
Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
University of Washington

NIOSH 2016-2022

Partners and Advisories:
Washington State Department of Health
Washington State University, AgWeatherNet Program


Kasner E.J., Prado J., Yost M.G., Fenske R.A. Examining the role of wind in human illness due to pesticide drift in Washington state, 2000–2015 Environmental Health 20 (1), 1-15.

Kasner E. J., Fenske R. A., Hoheisel G. A., Galvin K, Blanco M. N., Seto E. Y. W., Yost M. G. Spray Drift from Three Airblast Sprayer Technologies in a Modern Orchard Work Environment. Annals of Work Exposures and Health. 2020;64(1) 25-37. 

Blanco M. N., Fenske R. A., Kasner E. J., Yost M. G., Seto E., Austin E. Real-Time Monitoring of Spray Drift from Three Different Orchard Sprayers. Chemosphere. 2019;222(1) 46-55.

Kasner E. J., Fenske R. A., Hoheisel G. A., Galvin K, Blanco M. N., Seto E. Y. W., Yost M. G. Spray Drift from a Conventional Axial Fan Airblast Sprayer in a Modern Orchard Work Environment. Annals of Work Exposures and Health. 2018;62(9) 1134-1146.

Prado J. B., Mulay P. R., Kasner E. J., Bojes H. K., Calvert G. M. Acute Pesticide-Related Illness Among Farmworkers: Barriers to Reporting to Public Health Authorities. J of Agromedicine. 2017;22(4) 395-405. 

Kasner E. J., Fenske R. A, Galvin K., Yost M., Palmández P. Review of Agricultural Spray Notification Systems. 2016 Technical Report. Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, University of Washington. 

Blanco M.N., Fenske R.A., Kasner E.J., Yost M.G., Seto E., Austin E. Real-time particle monitoring of pesticide drift from an axial fan airblast orchard sprayer. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2018.

Trade article: Steering the research on spray drift. Good Fruit Grower. 2019 Feb 15.

Trade article: Spray researchers aim to catch their drift: Video. Good Fruit Grower. 2019 Feb 15.

Video/DVD: Air blast spray drift study begins. Good Fruit Grower. 2019 Feb 14.

Other Projects:
Reducing Agricultural Worker Risk through New and Emerging Technologies

Notification of Pesticide Applications to Minimize Workplace Exposures