Agrichemicals are chemicals used in agricultural production. Many of them are used as sprays to control insects or other pests, weeds or plant diseases. Sometimes - due to weather conditions, the nature of the landscape (hills, shelterbelts, etc) and the way the operator carries out the spraying - the spray drifts away from the target crop or area. This is known as spraydrift.
Spraydrift can affect your health, how badly will depend on such things as the extent of the drift, the chemical makeup of the spray, and the concentration of the spray. If you have concerns about your health, after there has been spraying in your area, contact your doctor or health professional.
Rules or regulations
There is one golden rule: If you're planning to spray, let your neighbours know well in advance!
You should also be aware that:
- Under the Resource Management Act, Environment Bay of Plenty is responsible for the control of spraying anywhere in the region - the Proposed Regional Air Plan sets out what operators can and can not do.
- Health protection authorities are obliged to investigate reports from people who feel their health has been affected by spraydrift. Under the Health Act, poisoning arising from chemical contamination is a notifiable disease.
- Under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry regulations spraydrift damage to other properties (mainly plant damage) could result in the initiation of criminal proceedings.
- Carefully read and follow the rules of the Bay of Plenty Regional Air Plan.
- Read agrichemical labels carefully and follow the instructions.
- Only employ qualified and experienced spray contractors.
- Follow the Growsafe Agrichemical Users' Code of Practice.
What to do
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent contact with spraydrift:
- Stop any outdoor activity - for example, children and pets playing outside.
- Close windows.
- Bring in washing from the line.
- Store some water in clean containers. (To keep it clean, add ½ a teaspoon of household bleach per 10 litres.)
- Disconnect the pipes to any water tanks collecting rainwater from a roof.
- Cover fishponds.
If spraydrift does occur and you are concerned about possible effects on health, animals or plants, phone the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Pollution Hotline 0800 884 883.
After you have reported the spraydrift, if you believe it requires investigation, make a note of the details such as:
- How you first became aware of it.
- The time, date, weather (especially wind strength and direction) and events as they happened.
- The colour and smell of the spray, if obvious.
- Who was spraying in the area, and the equipment used.
- Any symptoms occurring after spraydrift, and how long before they became apparent.
- If an aircraft was used - its identification number and colour, the direction it came from and an estimate of its height above the ground.
- You may even be able to video or photograph what is happening.