Whistleblower videos reveal helicopter spraying workers with weed killers

Have you seen the article and video posted at the Oregonian? It’s a terrifying video, one of over 200 that have been recorded showing workers being completely doused in chemicals.

“Nothing is more worrisome than the number of times the helicopter sprays over workers. Depending on the chemicals used, workers aren’t allowed to enter spray sites for up to 48 hours. Directly spraying workers is illegal. It’s also illegal to allow chemicals to drift onto workers.”

Pesticide drift has sickened Oregonians and damaged neighboring crops. There are pesticides in finished drinking water, and in streams impacting threatened and endangered native fish. We need to adopt stronger protections to avoid these impacts to human and environmental health in the future.

Oregon Environmental Council believes it is critical to protect the health of Oregonians, our drinking water, and our wildlife from harm caused by pesticides, while enabling the use of effective pest control methods to protect crops and human health, and prevent invasive species. Our priority should be providing reasonable requirements, training, reporting and notification to ensure that effective pest control methods create the least risk possible to human health and our environment.

A bill in the legislature to address the impacts of pesticide spraying on people and animals who live and work near and in the forest, House Bill 3549, takes a few small steps toward the more responsible spraying of pesticides, and protecting the health of Oregonians from harmful exposure. It does not go nearly far enough. The most important ways to strengthen protections for human health, rivers and wildlife further are to:

  1. Create meaningful buffers around homes, schools, drinking water sources and streams,
  2. Create a robust notification system that actually tells people when there will be spraying near them, and what will be sprayed,
  3. Required reporting to state agency about pesticide spraying, and
  4. Giving the Oregon Health Authority the authority to engage in pesticide incident investigations.

We appreciate the work of strong legislative champions advocating for these changes. We hope our legislative leaders currently negotiating this bill will include the changes needed to protect the health of Oregonians and our environment.

See a complete list of our legislative priorities here.

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