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Pesticide Safety Education Program: 1996

Pesticides play important roles

An ever-growing body of evidence continues to show that many pesticides present significant risks to people and the environment. Although the IPM Project's research and outreach programs contribute immensely to reducing pesticide use, pesticides still play important roles in pest management programs.

To reduce risks to people and the environment and to address public concerns regarding pesticide use, the UC IPM Pesticide Education Program develops training programs and materials to teach pesticide handlers to use pesticides to their maximum effectiveness while constantly seeking to minimize nontarget exposures to people, animals, soil, air, and waterways. These goals complement the regulatory efforts of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to assure safe and responsible handling of all pesticides.

California has about 23,000 certified commercial pesticide applicators, around 40,000 certified private applicators (growers who use restricted-use pesticides), and over 70,000 noncertified mixer-loader-applicators. In addition, over 750,000 fieldworkers perform cultural activities in fields that have been treated with pesticides. All pesticide handlers and fieldworkers must receive training to learn how to avoid pesticide hazards. Providing training and training materials to a population of this size requires resourcefulness and innovation. The staff of the Pesticide Education Program meets these challenges through both direct and indirect educational activities.

By developing resource materials and training workshops, the UC IPM Pesticide Education Program staff is directly involved in the education of pesticide handlers. They also reach the state's population of pesticide handlers and fieldworkers indirectly through train-the-trainer programs. In these programs, third-party trainers throughout the state learn to teach workers how to protect themselves, others, and their surroundings from pesticide exposure. The Pesticide Education Program staff collaborates with industry representatives, regulatory agencies, and campus- and county-based Cooperative Extension personnel to develop materials and conduct training programs. The Pesticide Education Program also serves as a resource for UC farm advisors, and staff frequently participate in local programs.

Many activities involve developing and testing new and innovative materials and training programs that bridge the cultural, language, and educational barriers found in California's diverse agricultural workforce. Once programs are proven effective, many are adopted by local organizations, Cooperative Extension offices, and regulatory agencies.

In recent years, changes in federal and state regulations have broadened the scope of the Pesticide Education Program. The program has assumed the lead in educating new pesticide safety instructors in California. People who train fieldworkers or pesticide handlers must demonstrate knowledge of training methods as well as a background in pesticide safety. In keeping with these mandates, Pesticide Education Program seminars, training courses, and resource publications not only focus on safe and effective pesticide use, but also on training methodology.

Staff. Pesticide Training Coordinator Patrick J. O'Connor-Marer manages the UC IPM Pesticide Education Program, develops training materials, and conducts training programs. Program Representative Melanie Zavala develops videos and other training materials in both English and Spanish and participates in numerous training programs for pesticide handlers and agricultural fieldworkers. Program Representative Jennifer Weber participates in training programs, edits the program newsletter, develops English and Spanish language materials, and works with rural health clinics and social service agencies to provide pesticide safety information to farmworkers and rural families.

Post Graduate Researcher Rose Krebill-Prather designs evaluation tools and conducts surveys and evaluations of program effectiveness. Program Assistant Gale Pérez organizes meetings, makes all logistical arrangements, maintains records, tabulates evaluations, and supervises registrations. Staff Writer Mark Grimes writes and coordinates the illustration of new volumes of the Pesticide Application Compendium Series. Administrative Assistant Diane Clarke provides clerical support and assists in the design and formatting of newsletters, training manuals, brochures, and other Pesticide Education Program media.

Training materials for pest management professionals

People in California who work with restricted-use pesticides must be certified by the Department of Pesticide Regulation through an examination process. The Pesticide Education Program staff develops and updates study materials for the various certification examinations. The central resource for California's Qualified Applicator certification and licensing program is the UC IPM Pesticide Application Compendium Series.

Volumes 5, 6, and 7 of the series--Aquatic Pest Management, Fumigation Practices, and Antimicrobial Pesticides--are scheduled for publication in late 1996 or early 1997. The 8th volume, Landscape Pest Management, also is well under way. Volume 4, Forest and Right-of-Way Pest Control, was released in June 1995, joining The Safe and Effective Use of Pesticides (Volume 1), Residential, Industrial, and Institutional Pest Control (Volume 2), and Wood Preservation (Volume 3).

Additional resource manuals, not included among the Compendium series, are developed as specialized needs arise. One such volume, Sewer Line Root Control, was published in May 1996. Anticipated for completion in 1996-97 is a special volume for grower-applicators who use restricted-use pesticides on their land.

Pesticide handler and farmworker instructor training

Spanish Language Workshop Participants at a Spanish-language train-the-trainer program held in Holtville learn firsthand about personal protective equipment used by pesticide handlers. (Photo by Patrick J. O'Connor-Marer)
Train-the-trainers workshop Second Train-the-trainers workshop
To better prepare themselves as trainers, participants in a Holtville workshop get actual experience in cleaning up a simulated pesticide spill. This was one of the many workshops conducted in Spanish. (Photos by Patrick J. O'Connor-Marer)

During 1995 and 1996, the UC IPM Pesticide Education Program's train-the-trainer courses were the only ones approved by the US EPA and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to qualify instructors to train pesticide handlers and agricultural fieldworkers under the provisions of the Federal Worker Protection Standard. (People in California having valid PCA licenses, Qualified Applicator certificates or licenses, or who are certified private applicators are qualified as trainers without taking a train-the-trainer program.)

The Pesticide Education Program staff conducted 48 train-the-trainer programs during 1996. Twelve 8-hour programs were held for trainers of both pesticide handlers and agricultural fieldworkers; four of these were conducted in Spanish, the second year for this feature of the program.

Thirty-five of the programs were 4-hour sessions for trainers of fieldworkers; twenty-two of these were conducted in Spanish.

This year's handler and fieldworker train-the-trainer programs were held in San Diego, Hanford, Marysville, Salinas, Visalia, Woodland, Rohnert Park, Holtville, and Irvine. These programs have attracted additional groups of people apart from the PCAs, pesticide handlers, and growers that comprise the program's typical clientele. Those attending the training included farm labor contractors, workers' compensation insurance company safety officers, farm supervisors, and medical and social service providers.

The train-the-trainer program demonstrates how the efforts of a few people, such as the Pesticide Education Program staff, can be greatly leveraged to have a significant impact on the agricultural community. During 1995, for instance, a total of 780 instructors were trained. These instructors reported that they were responsible for training over 340,000 workers in the coming year. Since beginning this series of train-the-trainer programs in 1994, the Pesticide Education Program staff have trained nearly 2,500 instructors.

Efforts of Pesticide Education Program staff to train trainers during 1995 and 1996 were augmented by two UC Area Agricultural Personnel Management Farm Advisors who conducted train-the-trainer programs for trainers of fieldworkers under the auspices of the UC IPM Project. Gregory Billikopf, Stanislaus County, held Spanish-language workshops, while Steve Sutter, Fresno County, provided English-language workshops.

All participants in the train-the-trainer program submitted evaluations for analysis. In addition, spot checking of trainers' programs is being conducted to assess how they are using the information and skills they received at the workshops. Upcoming workshops will incorporate pretesting of participants with an extensive follow-up plan to evaluate the success of the programs.

Programs for UC Staff. To assure that UC personnel who handle pesticides or supervise pesticide applications are up-to-date on federal, state, and local pesticide regulations and safe handling techniques, the Pesticide Education Program staff, in cooperation with the UCD Department of Environmental Health and Safety, provided continuing education programs for UC employees on four occasions during the 1995-96 year. Each training session highlighted different topics to assure unique and informative programming, including one early-morning training focusing on label interpretation. These programs provided the total continuing education hours needed by each attendee to renew their DPR pesticide applicator licenses or certificates. The next meeting of this series will be held on November 14, 1996.

Hands-On Workshops. Hands-on workshops for pesticide handlers, which were developed by the Pesticide Education Program, are now being continued by local Cooperative Extension and agricultural commissioner offices in several counties, including Napa, Sonoma, and San Diego. The Pesticide Education Program assists the organizers of these large-scale programs by training their volunteer instructors, providing instructors with resource materials, and loaning educational props. Napa County conducted an all-day program in March 1996, attended by over 400 participants. Two-thirds of the participants received their training from Spanish-speaking instructors.

New program for trainers

In 1995 the Department of Pesticide Regulation developed guidelines that allow individuals to submit their own train-the-trainer programs for approval. The Pesticide Education Program staff, working with representatives of the Department of Pesticide Regulation, California Agricultural Production Consultants Association (CAPCA), and the Western Crop Protection Association, developed the curriculum for a train-the-trainer-of-trainers (T3) program. This 2-day course is designed to assist individuals in developing their train-the-trainer programs and provides them with resources and actual training experience. One unique aspect of this program is that many of the resource materials are provided on computer diskette to enable the instructors to customize their own handouts and manuals. Two T3 programs were conducted during the past year. These focused on innovative teaching techniques, as well as pesticide safety issues.

New educational materials

The Pesticide Education Program has a tradition of creating specialized resource materials to meet the needs of particular niches found under the pesticide safety umbrella. For example, the video, Safe Use of Pesticides in Outdoor Nurseries, developed by Melanie Zavala and released this year, is a US EPA-approved Worker Protection Standard training material. Another critical need addressed by the project resulted in the English and Spanish video and pamphlet entitled Jorge's New Job: Getting Tested for Cholinesterase.

In these materials, developed by Melanie Zavala, actors portray a worker, his employer, and a laboratory technician going through the process of getting a blood test taken and explaining the purpose of this test. Cholinesterase testing is required for people who handle organophosphate or N-methyl carbamate insecticides for more than 5 days in any 30-day period. This test detects low levels of exposure and is aimed at preventing pesticide-related illnesses.

Two years ago, the need for pesticide safety information for the large population of Southeast Asian growers in the San Joaquin Valley was brought to the attention of the Pesticide Education Program staff. Jennifer Weber, in collaboration with UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisors Mick Canevari and Bob Mullen and the UCD Small Farm Center, developed pesticide safety materials in three Southeast Asian languages.

The first phase involved the publication of a booklet, Pesticide Safety for Small Farms, which is based on the US EPA Protect Yourself from Pesticides guide for handlers. Drawings and information were modified to focus on the needs of small farm operations. The guides were translated into Hmong, Lao, and Cambodian. The second stage of the project involved developing a companion video for the Pesticide Safety Guides for Small Farms. Currently available in English, the video soon will be translated into Hmong.

Jennifer Weber participated in a seminar at Woodland High School for students interested in providing health care to farmworkers. Due to the positive reception of the program, it is anticipated that this seminar will be an annual effort by the Pesticide Education Program staff.

Newsletter. The newsletter Targeting Pesticide Safety is issued quarterly for people with an interest in pesticide safety education. Trainers who have attended one of the Pesticide Education Program's workshops receive these newsletters as a way to keep up-to-date on changes in the regulations and to learn new ideas for more effective pesticide safety training. Anyone wishing to receive this newsletter is encouraged to contact the Pesticide Education Program.

Agricultural Health and Safety Center

The UC IPM Pesticide Education Program is an active participant in the NIOSH-sponsored Agricultural Health and Safety Center at Davis. This cooperative agreement supports efforts to bridge cultural and language barriers to providing safety information to agricultural workers. An example of the type of materials developed under this cooperative agreement is the training tool La loteria de los pesticidas, which conveys pesticide safety information in the form of a familiar Hispanic board game. This concept is now being used in other areas of agricultural safety.

A 5-year renewal proposal has been submitted to NIOSH by the Agricultural Health and Safety Center. The Pesticide Education Program will continue to investigate and evaluate cultural, language, and educational barriers to providing pesticide safety information to agricultural workers; provide outreach to rural health clinics for recognizing and managing pesticide poisoning; develop information programs for agricultural employers; and target specific pesticide-related injuries for focused intervention activities.

Patrick J. O'Connor-Marer is the Associate Director of this western regional Center. The Pesticide Education Program involvement provides valuable interaction between the UC IPM Project and the UC Davis School of Medicine, other campus departments, and the agricultural industry. Within the Center, the Pesticide Education Program is involved in two thematic areas: (1) Injuries, headed by Stephen McCurdy; and (2) Neurotoxicology and Pesticides, headed by Barry Wilson. Patrick J. O'Connor-Marer coordinates the Evaluation/Biostatistics Service Core of the Center and, with Jennifer Weber, the Farm Safety 4 Just Kids special project.

Evaluating program effectiveness

The Pesticide Education Program continues to evaluate its programs to determine how effective they are in changing behaviors and practices of pesticide handlers, fieldworkers, and pest management professionals. These studies include surveys, focus groups, interviews, and other tools that can measure impacts of Pesticide Education Program activities. Cost- effectiveness of these activities also is being examined.

Rose Krebill-Prather coordinates the Pesticide Education Program's evaluation activities. She is currently completing a major project involving measurement of changes in pest management practices as a result of attending a UC IPM Grape Pest Management Workshop held at the Kearney Agricultural Center in May 1995. Participants were given a questionnaire prior to attending the workshop to assess their levels of knowledge regarding vineyard pests and to establish a baseline of current pest management practices. Follow-up surveys were distributed to these participants to learn their impressions of the workshop and to determine if they had made any changes in their pest management practices as a result of the knowledge gained by attending. A control group of grape pest managers who did not attend the workshop is being surveyed at the present time.

Other evaluation activities focus on the train-the-trainer programs. These involve pre- and post-tests of instructors attending workshops and also include follow-up interviews to determine how effective the workshops have been in preparing them to be trainers. The training received by agricultural fieldworkers is being evaluated, and comparisons will be made between training received from instructors who participated in the UC IPM instructor workshops and instructors who were qualified through other ways.

For the Pesticide Safety Training schedule, call (530) 752-5273.


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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