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.

To date, the findings demonstrate a limited ability to predict drift in orchard settings, but 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 2016-2021

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

Products

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. 

Other Projects

Reducing Agricultural Worker Risk through New and Emerging Technologies

Notification of Pesticide Applications to Minimize Workplace Exposures