DPR releases 1997 pesticide use data

provided by California Department of Pesticide Regulation


al/EPA's Department of Pesticide Regulation has released 1997 pesticide use statistics that show a 3.5 percent increase in pounds applied from 1996, and a slight decrease from 1995.

Reported pesticide use in California totaled 204,779,717 pounds in 1997, compared to 197,828,481 pounds in 1996 and 205,133,950 pounds in 1995. Reported use includes production agriculture and post-harvest fumigation of crops, structural pest control, landscape maintenance and other uses. Exempt from reporting requirements and therefore not included in these totals are home and garden use of pesticides, and most industrial and institutional uses.

Summaries of pesticide use in 1997 -- categorized by chemical and crop or site -- are available on DPR's website: www.cdpr.ca.gov/whatnew.htm. (The 1996 pesticide use summaries, released in May, are also available on the website.) And DPR has supplemented the use data with a new study published online: Pesticide Use Analysis and Trends from 1991 to 1996. The study examines major crops, pest problems and high-use chemicals. It also analyzes trends in pesticides where use is highest, as measured in pounds, number of applications and acres treated.

"We need to reduce the use of the high-hazard pesticides, and this kind of analysis will help us understand what factors drive their use," said DPR Director Paul E. Helliker. "We can also examine the use of reduced-risk alternatives, and the crops, regions and situations where they are used most effectively."

The analysis determined that 31 pesticides account for 85 percent of pounds used, 52 percent of all applications, and 50 percent of the acres treated in 1996. The same pesticides also accounted for most of the increased use from 1991 to 1996; only four pesticides accounted for 68 percent of all pounds applied. The study underscores the fact that one year of data does not signify a trend. Pesticide use varies from year to year, depending upon pest problems, weather, crops and other factors discussed in DPR's analysis.

Helliker noted that pounds applied is only one of several measures of pesticide use. "DPR's goal is to encourage the use of reduced-risk pest management tools -- including chemicals -- which have the least impact on the environment," he said. "Some reduced-risk chemicals are used at higher rates, so pounds applied may not provide an accurate measure of our progress."

DPR compiles yearly pesticide use reports from the most extensive database of its kind in the nation.

"The Department deferred release of the 1996 and 1997 pesticide use reports while developing software programs to provide more accurate data to the public," said Helliker. "We expect to bring the schedule of our annual pesticide use reports up to date with the release of the 1998 data in August."

Some key facts from the 1997 pesticide use reports:

  • Production agriculture accounted for 189,796,122 pounds applied (with an additional 1,608,996 pounds used for post-harvest commodity treatment) compared to 182,375,369 pounds (plus 1,847,859 post-harvest) in 1996 and 187,577,922 pounds (plus 3,770,169 post-harvest) in 1995.
  • About one-third of the total pounds applied in 1997 involved sulfur. A natural fungicide favored by organic and conventional growers alike, sulfur was also the most-used pesticide from 1991 to 1996.
  • The top five crops for pounds of pesticide used were wine grapes (27.1 million pounds); table and raisin grapes (26.9 million pounds); almonds (14.5 million pounds); cotton (13.4 million pounds); and oranges (11.5 million pounds).

Reported pesticide applications make up about 30 percent of the pesticides sold in the state each year. In 1997, there were 653.9 million pounds of pesticide active ingredients sold in California, compared to 699.6 million pounds in 1996. These sales figures include not only chemicals whose use must be reported, but also pesticides not subject to reporting requirements. This includes pesticides used in homes and gardens and in industrial and institutional settings, such as disinfectants and other antimicrobial products. Among the latter is chlorine used for municipal water treatment. Chlorine products typically account for more than a third of the pesticide active ingredients sold in California. Approximately 10,500 branded products that contained about 800 different active ingredients were registered for sale in California in 1997.

Summaries of the 1997 pesticide use data are available free online or for a nominal charge on hard copy or diskette. Two summary versions of the data (one indexed by pesticides, the other by crops) include number of applications, acreage or units treated, and pounds of pesticide used. The 300-page summaries may be ordered in hard copy ($10 each) or on diskette ($2.50). To order, send payment to: Cashier, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, 830 K Street, Sacramento 95814-3510. A complete data set of the 2.5 million-plus individual 1997 pesticide use reports is also available on CD ROM at a nominal cost. For information about the CD-ROM, call the DPR Environmental Monitoring and Pest Management Branch at 916/324-4100.

California County Pesticide Use Data Summary

Total pounds of all pesticide active ingredients (AIs) reported used in each California county in 1997. Data from DPR's Pesticide Use Report. (Computer analysis used to identify and remove probable errors.)

County Lbs A.I.   County Lbs A.I.
Alameda  273,260   Placer  362,619
Alpine  121   Plumas  2,743
Amador  134,703   Riverside  4,339,486
Butte  3,738,988   Sacramento  3,730,460
 Calaveras  46,626   San Benito  609,220
Colusa  2,397,875   San Bernardino  527,074
Contra Costa  583,426   San Diego  1,858,600
Del Norte  246,137   San Francisco  24,607
El Dorado  126,461   San Joaquin  11,882,252
Fresno  35,110,883   San Luis Obispo  2,431,078
Glenn  2,683,853   San Mateo   421,002
Humboldt  60,710   Santa Barbara  3,875,940
Imperial  8,484,339   Santa Clara  740,533
Inyo  5,228   Santa Cruz  1,727,669
Kern  25,658,041   Shasta  343,527
Kings  6,678,449   Sierra  17,637
Lake  1,278,845   Siskiyou  440,817
Lassen  39,238   Solano  2,099,728
Los Angeles  2,746,429   Sonoma  3,899,566
Madera  8,564,020   Stanislaus  5,840,179
Marin  61,685   Sutter  3,970,538
Mariposa  29,746   Tehama  1,047,197
Mendocino  2,087,056   Trinity  9,358
Merced  9,180,264   Tulare  18,169,446
Modoc  337,467   Tuolumne   54,349
Mono  802   Ventura  6,767,975
Monterey  9,102,605   Yolo  3,380,169
Napa  2,842,708   Yuba  1,790,719
Nevada  83,289      
Orange  1,831,976   Total  204,779,717
  Note: Included in the table above are agricultural applications and commercial applications of pesticides including structural fumigation, pest control, and turf applications. Not included are uses not subject to the reporting requirements, including home and garden applications, and most industrial and institutional uses of pesticides.

  DPR is one of six boards and departments within the California Environmental Protection Agency. DPR regulates the use of pesticides to protect human health and the environment