Mitigating Pesticide Hazards: Reducing Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are compounds that readily vaporize in the atmosphere. They are emitted from a variety of sources including vehicle exhaust, paint, cleaning products, and pesticides. Concern about VOCs is due to their reaction with nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight to form ozone, or smog. Ozone can harm people and crops.
Ways to minimize emissions
Growers and applicators can minimize their VOC emissions by following IPM practices such as the following:
- Identify pests. Pesticides may not be the best solution, or may not be necessary at all to control some pests.
- Use pesticides only when necessary. Planting cover crops, crop rotation, pest exclusion, crop sanitation, and pest-resistant or tolerant varieties and rootstocks are good cultural methods for managing pests. Biological control and pheromone traps are also effective pest management methods that do not involve chemical applications. Additionally, reducing pesticide use also reduces VOC emissions from diesel-powered application equipment.
- Choose low-emission methods. If pesticides are necessary, seek low-emission treatment options.
- Reduce the amount of pesticide applied. Spot-treating, reducing the acreage treated, and applying fewer treatments will reduce VOC emissions. Use target-sensing equipment such as Smart Sprayer technology to apply pesticides where they are most needed.
- Avoid emulsifiable concentrates (ECs). EC formulations release the highest VOC emissions due to the solvents they contain. Solid formulations, such as granules or powders, release the lowest.
- Follow restricted-use laws. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation restricts field pesticide applications to ensure they are used in such a way to minimize VOC emissions.
- Avoid applications between May and October. This is the peak season for ground-level ozone. If possible, apply pesticides before May or after October.
Use these DPR calculators to determine VOC emissions from nonfumigant and fumigant sources.