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New regulations on pesticide spraying near schools

We are going in-depth on new regulations for pesticide spraying and safety standards, particularly what some companies are doing to ensure students at east valley schools are kept safe.

The new regulations come after an incident that happened two years ago at Coachella Valley High School when two dozen students and staff members reported being sickened by a chemical smell near campus.

Read: Herbicide to blame for causing illness at Coachella Valley High School

Coachella Valley Unified School District officials at the time said crews sprayed pesticide on fields near the school.

“There was, like, a strong odor and some of the students were depending on their immune systems. They get sick just from the smell of it,” said Christopher Muratalla, whose sibling is a CVHS student.

Now, state leaders have issued new regulations for spraying near schools, even though Riverside County officials say more incidents are reported on-campus rather than off-campus.

“The Department of Pesticide Regulation doesn’t necessarily have the authority, the way regulations and laws are set up, to tell schools what to do on school campuses with the use of pesticides. They do have the authority to create regulations, to limit the use of pesticides, anywhere outside of that,” Riverside County Agricultural Commissioner Ruben Arroyo said.

The regulations would include banning certain types of pesticide spraying that are within a quarter-mile of schools and day care centers from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Crews would be prohibited from any aerial applications of pesticides, fumigation, chemigation, dust formulations and air blasts.

It’s an extra benefit Arroyo said he and others hope will the keep students and staffers safe.

“There’s plenty of hours to spray the pesticides so that it doesn’t cause the sickness of kids while they’re in school,” said Muratalla.

The new regulations go will take effect on Jan.1, 2018.

Arroyo says the state is creating a website showing how close schools are to agricultural.

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