Real-time particle monitoring of pesticide drift from an axial fan airblast orchard sprayer
Blanco, M.N.; Fenske, R.A.; Kasner, E.J.; Yost, M.G.; Seto, E.; Austin, E.
Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology 29(3): 397-405
ISSN/ISBN: 1559-064X PMID: 30425317 DOI: 10.1038/s41370-018-0090-5
In Washington State, a majority of reported pesticide-related illnesses and application-related complaints involve drift. We employed real-time particle monitors (Dylos) during a series of experimental spray events investigating drift. Sections of an orchard block were randomly sprayed by an axial fan airblast sprayer, while monitors sampled particulate matter above and below the canopy at various downwind locations. We found elevated particle mass concentrations (PMC) at all distances (16-74 m). The 75th percentile PMC while spraying was significantly greater than the control periods by 107 (95% CI 94-121) mu g/m(3), after adjusting for sampler height and wind speed. The 75th percentile PMC below the canopy was significantly greater than above the canopy by 9.4 (95% CI 5.2-12) mu g/m(3), after adjusting for spraying and wind speed. In a restricted analysis of the spray events, the 75th percentile PMC significantly decreased by 2.6 (95% CI -3.2 to 1.7) mu g/m(3) for every additional meter away from the edge of the spray quadrant, after adjusting for canopy height and wind speed. Our results were consistent with a larger study that performed passive sampling during the same spray events, suggesting that real-time monitoring can be used as a screening tool for pesticide drift. Compared with traditional methods of drift sampling, real-time monitoring is overall an easily employed, affordable sampling technique, and it can provide minute-by-minute measurements that can be coupled with meteorological measurements to better understand how changes in wind speed and direction affect drift.