An advocacy group in northwestern Minnesota plans to expand citizen monitoring of pesticide drift. Next week, the White Earth Pesticide Action Network will train volunteers to use the monitoring equipment.
Robert Shimek says three years of monitoring in northwest Minnesota found it's common for pesticides drift off the fields where they are applied. He hopes to get enough volunteers to expand the pesticide monitoring to a larger area, and says collecting data on pesticide drift is the first step in working for tighter regulation of pesticide use.
"How much of this stuff is actually moving around into places where it shouldn't be? Is it at or above levels that are safe for human health? This is the kind of thing that's important to those of us who have to live in these communities," he said. "We're watching, we're monitoring, we're testing, o make sure everybody stays in compliance. It's not about setting up an adversarial situation. It's about taking care of people, peoples' health."
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture regulates pesticide use. Earlier this year a department official said all complaints of pesticide drift are investigated by the agency.