Questions Raised Over Pesticide Use Near High School

A new report shows that there may be toxic substances used in high levels near Oxnard's Rio Mesa High School.

Questions are being raised about the safety of an Oxnard high school after a new report shows the surrounding agricultural land may be saturated with a potentially toxic pesticide.

Rio Mesa High School’s campus is literally bordered by agriculture fields, with strawberries as far as the eye can see - part of Ventura County’s $3 billion farming industry.

"I just want to know more about it," said parent Javier San Roman.

The county’s agriculture commissioner presented a report to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday about pesticides on the campus.

He also faced some tough questions about one chemical in particular, called 1,3-Dichloropropene - also called 1-3-D.

"Everybody jumps to the conclusion that, because it's so much, it's got to be 'bad.' And that is not accurate," Henry Gonzalez told the board.

1-3-D is known to cause cancer in high concentrations, although it's still being tested.

The commissioner admitted that growers did exceed state air standards with 1-3-D.

"2011, 2012 and 2013 …The air there was above the standard?" asked supervisor Steve Bennett. He was correct.

Environmental watch dogs say the people who are supposed to be protecting students and school workers from pesticide exposure used loopholes in state law to allow higher concentrations than were healthy.

The county's health director said there's no evidence of that yet. But, he says, more study is needed, snd that includes taking residue samples from surfaces at the school.

"None of these has shown us increased health problems in employees or children at Rio Mesa High School," said Dr. Robert Levin.

But the supervisors and Levin said more testing is needed, and that the issue is not likely to go away anytime soon.

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