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State School Board Against Proposal To Ease Pesticide Restrictions

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SAMPSON COUNTY, N.C. — Some say crop dusters are a fading breed. Now, a proposal to change some of the rules they fly by has opinions spinning fast.

"We're opposed to any change in the regulations that would allow spray to drift over on the schools," said Dr. Ben Matthews of the

state Department of Public Instruction


The state Department of Public Instruction said it is concerned about a proposal to ease pesticide spraying rules around schools. State Supt. Michael Ward even sent a letter to the editor of

The News and Observer


The state currently has a zero tolerance for pesticide residue. The

state Department of Agriculture

said that is impossible to adhere to. The new rule would allow trace amounts to be detected on school property -- residue that could float from nearby spraying or what someone might carry on the bottom of their shoes.

"Sure, certain parts per million in the air seems to be no big deal. But I don't think any of us want our children sprayed with any kind of pesticide or herbicide," Matthews said.

Pesticide sprayers, like Elbie Powers, said that is not going to happen.

"As a pilot and [using] common sense, I won't go within 2,000 feet -- a half mile from a school. I won't even fly close to a school," Powers said.

Powers agrees regulation is needed, but said, "We're almost being regulated out of business."

The state Pesticide Board is now considering the proposed changes.