United States
                    Environmental Protection
Prevention, Pesticides
and Toxic Substances
Date: December 1999
                   FOR  YOUR INFORMATION
                     Spray  Drift of Pesticides
The drift of spray from pesticide applications can expose people, wildlife and the environment to
pesticide residues that can cause health and environmental effects and property damage. For these
reasons and because EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) is responsible for regulating the use of
pesticides in the U.S., OPP has been actively engaged in a number of initiatives to help prevent such
problems. These initiatives include broadening our understanding of the science and predictability of
spray drift based on many new studies and helping pesticide applicators to reduce spray drift by
improving product label use directions and promoting education and training programs on spray drift
for applicators.  These initiatives are consistent with the Agency's mission of protecting human health
and the environment from potential adverse effects of pesticides. When we complete our decisions on
how we intend to use the new studies for our regulatory decisions and on the new wording for product
labels, we plan to issue a draft Pesticide Registration (PR) Notice for public comment before making
and implementing final decisions. This 'Tor Your Information" publication provides the Agency's
position on spray drift issues and a summary of responsibilities and activities of EPA and others.
   What Is Pesticide Spray Drift?

      EPA defines pesticide spray drift as the
   physical movement of a pesticide through air
   at the time of application or soon thereafter,
   to any site other than that intended for
   application (often referred to as off-target).
   EPA does not include in its definition the
   movement of pesticides to off-target sites
   caused by erosion, migration, volatility, or
   contaminated soil particles that are
   windblown after application, unless
   specifically addressed on a pesticide product
   label with respect to drift control
   How Does Spray Drift Occur?

      When pesticide solutions are sprayed by
   ground spray equipment or aircraft, droplets
   are produced by the nozzles of the
   equipment. Many of these droplets can be so
   small that they stay suspended in air and are
   carried by air currents until they contact a
   surface or drop to the ground. A number of
   factors influence drift including weather
   conditions, topography, the crop or area
   being sprayed, application equipment and
   methods, and decisions by the applicator.

What are the Impacts of Spray Drift?

   Off-target spray can affect human health
and the environment. For example, spray drift
can result in pesticide exposures to farm
workers, children playing outside,  and wildlife
and its habitat.  Drift can also contaminate a
home garden or another farmer's crops,
causing illegal pesticide residues and/or plant
damage. The proximity of individuals and
sensitive sites to the pesticide application, the
amounts of pesticide drift, and toxicity of the
pesticide are important factors in determining
the potential impacts from drift.
How Does EPA View Off-Target Spray

   EPA recognizes the importance of
exposures to pesticides resulting from spray
drift.   There are thousands of reported
complaints of off-target spray drift each year.
Reports of exposures of people, plants and
animals to pesticides due to off-target drift
(often referred to as "drift incidents") are an
important component in the scientific
evaluation and regulation of the uses of
pesticides.  Other routes of pesticide exposure
include consuming foods and drinking water
which may contain pesticide residues,
applying pesticides, and contacting treated
surfaces in agricultural, industrial, or
residential settings. EPA considers all of
these routes of exposure in regulating the use
of pesticides.

   When labels of pesticide products state
that off-target drift is to be avoided or
prohibited,  our policy is straightforward:
pesticide drift from the target site is to be
prevented. However, we recognize that some
degree of drift of spray particles will occur
from nearly all applications. Nevertheless,
applicators and other responsible parties must
use all available application practices
designed to prevent drift that will otherwise
occur. Prudent and responsible applicators
must consider all factors, including wind
speed, direction and other weather conditions,
application equipment, the proximity of
people and sensitive areas, and product label
directions in making their decisions about
pesticide applications. A prudent and
responsible applicator must refrain from
application under conditions that are
inconsistent with the goal of drift prevention,
or are prohibited by the label requirements.
EPA uses its discretion to pursue violations
based on the unique fads and circumstances
of each drift situation.

   Pesticide applicators and others, including
land owners, play a very important role in
pesticide application-deciding whether or not
to apply a pesticide and if so how best to
make that application. It is their
responsibility to know and understand a
product's use restrictions.  They are
responsible for complying with all other
pesticide laws regarding pesticide
applications and that their application
equipment and techniques will ensure the
maximum possible  reduction of spray drift.
EPA also expects applicators to exercise a
high level of professionalism in making
decisions about applications.
How Does EPA Help Protect People and
the Environment from Off-Target Spray

    EPA is responsible for a number of
 important programs that help protect people
 and the environment from potential adverse
 effects that can be related to off-target drift
 from pesticide applications.  These programs
 include restricting how pesticides are used,
 certification and training of applicators, and
 enforcement and compliance of pesticide

 Restricting How Pesticides are Used:

    Under Federal law, EPA's Office of
 Pesticide Programs is responsible for
 evaluating pesticides and their uses to ensure
 that they can be used with a reasonable
 certainty of no harm to human health and not
 cause unreasonable risks to the environment
 when properly applied. In fulfilling these
 duties, we consider the potential impact of
 spray drift on humans and the environment in
 our evaluations of proposed pesticides for
 new registration and older, existing pesticides
 for reregistration.

    As a part of our evaluation of a pesticide,
 we estimate the amounts of off-target drift
 and the associated potential risks to human
 health and the environment. Restrictions on a
 pesticide's application may be triggered in two
 ways. For new pesticides and existing
 pesticides undergoing reregistration,
 estimated deposition levels are evaluated
 along with the pesticide's toxicity.  For
 existing pesticides, available information on
 drift incidents is also evaluated. Based on
these evaluations, OPP may impose specific
restrictions for a pesticide's application.
 Specific restrictions may include prohibiting
the use of certain pesticides under certain
conditions; prohibiting certain methods of
application; requiring use of a foliage barrier;
or requiring a buffer zone distance between
 the site of application and areas to be
 protected. In general, applicators must use all
 available drift prevention practices in order to
 prevent drift.

    During the past few years OPP has
 received and reviewed new studies on spray
 drift it required from pesticide registrants to
 support their product registrations. OPP has
 completed its review of these studies and
 reached conclusions about the factors that
 influence drift and the amounts of sprays
 which can drift from the application she.

    OPP also collaborated under a cooperative
 research and development agreement with
 registrants and the U.S. Department of
 Agriculture (USDA) on the development of a
 model ("AgDRIFT") to predict distances of
 spray drift under many different conditions.

    To ensure the scientific quality of the
 conduct of the studies,  conclusions that were
 drawn from these studies, and the predictive
 model, OPP obtained independent expert
 peer reviews, including the FIFRA Science
 Advisory Panel.  These expert peer reviews
 supported the use of these studies and model
 for OPP's science assessments of pesticides.

   Based on these studies and reviews, OPP
 is now developing improved product labeling
 to inform applicators of requirements to
 control off-target spray drift.  OPP plans to.
publish these requirements and an
implementation plan in a draft notice (PR
Notice) this winter and ask for public
comments.  Comments will be considered
before publishing the final requirements in
summer 2000.

Applicator Certification and Training:

    EPA also works with USDA and state
 government agencies to carry out certification
 and training programs for pesticide
 applicators. States have primary
 responsibility for ensuring that pesticide
 applicators are licensed and certified, as
 required by federal and state laws, to apply
 pesticides in an appropriate manner. Part of
 the program for certification can include
 training about how to protect people and the
 environment from off-target spray drift.

 Enforcement and Compliance of Laws:

    When individuals have complaints about
 off-target spray drift, they should report those
 complaints to their state or tribal government
 agency (either agriculture or environmental
 protection) which is responsible for enforcing
 the proper use of pesticides for that state or
 tribe. These agencies have the primary
 responsibility of enforcing lawful use of
 pesticide products by investigating complaints
 and, when appropriate, issuing penalties for
 improper use.  When necessary, EPA will
 assist these agencies with investigations.
Other Activities That Promote Awareness
and Education of Spray Drift Issues

   For the past few years, EPA has been
actively working together with other federal
and state agencies and tribes, pesticide and
application equipment manufacturers,
applicators, university scientists and others
(National Coalition on Drift Minimization) on
many spray drift issues. Coalition members,
including EPA, have focused attention on
enhancing pesticide applicator education,
application research, and regulatory initiatives
to foster reductions in drift incidents.
   Members of the Coalition have produced
 and widely disseminated training and
 educational materials for applicators, assisted
 with development of improved pesticide
 product label directions for drift reduction,
 and promoted common awareness and
 understanding of technical and regulatory
 issues regarding spray drift. Additional
 education and communication products are
 scheduled for future release.

   Complementing these efforts in applicator
 education is an increasing number of training
 programs sponsored by industry and
 pesticide applicator organizations.  Such
 programs are designed to raise the level of
 professionalism and education about drift
 issues for those involved in pesticide
Where to Direct Complaints About Spray

   Should you believe that you have been
exposed to pesticide spray drift and have
health-related questions, you should contact
your physician, local poison control center, or
health department for assistance. You can
also contact the National Pesticides
Telecommunications Network (see below for

   If you suspect that there has been an
occurrence of illegal spraying, you should
contact your state or tribal pesticide
regulatory agency (either the department of
agriculture or environmental protection).

   Take this opportunity to verify that you
have phone numbers for emergency medical
assistance and for your state and country

For Further Information

   For general information on EPA's
pesticide program, call the Office of Pesticide
Programs at (703) 305-5017, or visit the EPA
pesticide website at www.epa.gov/pesticides.

For information on pesticides and pesticide
exposure, contact the National Pesticide
Telecommunications Network (NPTN)
between 6:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.(Pacific
Time), seven days a week, at; 1-800-858-7378
(toll-free) or through their website
(http://ace.orst.edu/info/npM'f). NPTN
provides pesticide information to any caller in
the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin
Islands.                   ,