A new study in California that found links between exposure to pesticides during pregnancy and autism in children couldn’t have happened in Connecticut. The reason involves how the two states monitor pesticide use.
California is one of the few states in the U.S. that has strict reporting requirements for the use of pesticide, including not only the type and amount of herbicide and insecticide but exactly where and when those chemicals were applied to fields and other locations.
The California system is so thorough that researchers can map the information, and that allowed the autism researchers to correlate the pesticide use to pregnancies and childhood autism cases.
Connecticut does have laws to require commercial companies and farmers to report what pesticides they’re using and where. Unfortunately, the state unit in charge of monitoring pesticides here is so short-handed and its paper filing system is so outdated and sloppy that researchers would find it impossible to replicate the California study.
Earlier this year, the Courant reported that Connecticut pesticide regulators admitted they have no way to routinely monitor the use of herbicides and insecticides in this state.
State officials say they are planning on computerizing those state pesticide reports and want to make the regulatory unit more efficient.
State environmental activists insist the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and particularly the agency’s enforcement and inspection units, have been underfunded and understaffed for decades.
There was no significant increase in state funding for pesticide monitoring and inspections in the new budget approved by the General Assembly this year and signed into law by Gov. Dannel Malloy.