Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Maine BPC Report – Fall 2005

Maine BPC Reports \ BPC Report – Fall 2005

Lawn Care Companies to Verify Location of Pesticide Applications

Two neighbors in Bowdoinham who had fertilizer and herbicides applied to their lawns accidentally by TruGreen ChemLawn appeared at the Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) meeting on June 17 to request protection for homeowners from this kind of mistake, arguing that such a mistake could be very costly for the wrong person. For example, organic growers could have their certification jeopardized; and, given that these applications occur unexpectedly, precautions recommended by ChemLawn, such as keeping pets, pet toys and children’s toys inside, cannot be followed. A ChemLawn representative assured that the mistake was an honest one: A new driver took a wrong turn and ended up at a place that matched the house descriptions he had been given.

The Board said that this recurring problem needs a solution, that exposing citizens to such a risk is unacceptable. Board member Daniel Simmons said that an unmistakable, positive description of every lawn care client is needed.

A general consensus was that using a CMP meter number is the best positive identification method available and is already being used by other industries. Representatives from TurfCare and ChemLawn indicated a willingness to use this method. The BPC staff will draft a policy requiring positive, unique identification of properties before pesticide applications.

Chapter 27 & 31 Amendments

Amendments that passed to clarify Chapter 27, Standards for Pesticide Applications and Public Notification in Schools, define school grounds as any area regularly utilized for school activities; specify that the integrated pest management coordinator must be a school employee; remove reference to non-volatile liquids and better define pesticide uses that are exempt from notification; require that notice be given to all school staff, parents and guardians within two weeks of the start of every school year; allow applicators to set out bait block, pastes or gels when people are in the same room; eliminate the requirement that heating systems be shut down when space, spot, surface or fumigation applications are conducted; and clarify that outdoor applications must not occur when unprotected persons are in the target area, and must be scheduled to allow maximum time for sprays to dry and vapors to dissipate.

Amendments approved to Chapter 31, Certification & Licensing Provisions/ Commercial Applicator, incorporate previously adopted policies excluding pet groomers and swimming pool operators from Board licensing; specify that applicator licenses are affiliated with a company and terminate when the employee leaves that company (i.e., the applicator retains certification but must acquire a new license when hired by another company); specify that Section 2.A.VII.d includes applicators applying general use pesticides for remedial treatments to utility poles; specify that applicants who fail to appear for exams twice in a row forfeit their exam fees; state that adding a category or upgrading to a Master does not extend the applicator’s certification period; increase the five-year certification period to six years to be consistent with a previous change to biennial licenses; and specify verification procedures that meeting organizers must follow to have their programs eligible for recertification credits and that licensees must follow to earn those credits.

Environmental Risk Advisory Committee

The Board is selecting its new ad-hoc members to the Environmental Risk Advisory Committee (ERAC) in order to meet the legislative directive from the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry concerning L.D. 1657, An Act to Minimize the Risk to Maine’s Marine Waters and Organisms Posed by the Application of Pesticides. The ERAC will evaluate studies of the potential for pesticides to adversely affect lobsters. The Board will collect resumes and information on potential candidates for presentation at its next meeting.

Consent Agreements

The Board approved three consent agreements. NewLand Nursery & Landscaping, Inc., of Ellsworth delivered the wrong services to a homeowner. The property owner had signed up for a comprehensive landscaping service including “Turf Care,” covering insect and weed control. The homeowner, upon learning that pesticide application was included in this package, requested that it not be applied. NewLand notified Scotts, which does the actual application, but Scotts claims that it never received notification, and the applications continued. Since the contract was with NewLand, the consent agreement is with NewLand. The Board expressed a desire for clearer disclosure of products included in NewLand’s “TurfCare” in its contract and recommended making changes in writing when an agreement changes.

A consent agreement with Maple Lane Golf Club in Livermore was approved. When the person who had been licensed to apply pesticides to turf left the position, the owner took over pesticide applications without a license.

The third consent agreement was with Ballard’s Custom Spraying of St. Albans. A commercial applicator who treats agricultural crops with products that must conform with the federal Worker Protection Standard failed to provide handler safety training to his employee. The applicator was notified of the violation in 2003, but was noncompliant at an inspection the following year.

A Variance Permit was granted to Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) for 2005 woody brush and roadside grass control programs, provided MDOT continues to adhere to precautionary measures as it has in the past.

– Melissa White