It’s a mystery that we accept exposure to any toxic chemical, including pesticides, as just a normal part of life.
It’s even more alarming that we think we can mix up a toxic soup of chemicals, without increasing our risk.
We can’t, of course. Now, a new report by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (STPP) warns just how bad an idea that is, especially for fumigants—pesticides that are sprayed directly on the soil, rather than on plants.
The researchers studied three fumigants—chlorpicrin,1,3-dichloropropene, and metam salts—and found that when mixed together, the chemicals can interact and become more toxic. Who ends up suffering the consequences? Farmworkers, schoolchildren and anyone unfortunate enough to live in neighborhoods where fumigants are sprayed.
How worried should we be? According to an article in Civil Eats:
Millions of pounds of these three pesticides are commonly used in combination to grow strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, grapes, nuts, and other crops. All together about 30 million pounds were used on California farm fields in 2013 alone and together they account for about a fifth of all pesticides used in [California].