Some months ago, we had written about San Francisco’s Natural Areas Program and its escalating pesticide use. The graph below shows the number of applications of pesticides in the years from 2008-2011.
The San Francisco Forest Alliance, an organization dedicated to preserving public parks for the public, has used this graph in its presentations. Recently, we were told, there’s been a rebuttal: Claims that while the number of applications might be rising, the amount of pesticide used
has may have fallen. (We’ve been told that this claim has been made both by SF Recreations and Parks Dept people, and by San Francisco Dept of Environment staff.)
This defense presumes that the absolute amount matters more than how many areas are affected. Since some of these pesticides are possible endocrine disruptors, they may have adverse effects at very low doses.
[Here's our article, Why Low Dose Pesticides are Still Hazards.]
But there’s a more important issue with saying that NAP used smaller amounts of pesticides even though numbers of applications rose.
It’s not true.
NAP’s PESTICIDE VOLUMES ROSE EVEN MORE
According to the city’s own records that we received under the Sunshine Act, the volume of pesticides used not only didn’t decrease, they actually went up more than the number of applications.
- Between 2010 and 2011 the number of applications went up 21%. The volume of pesticide (in fluid ounces) used went up by 25%.
- Between 2009 and 2010, the number of applications went up 184%. The volume of pesticide used went up by 365%.
WITH TECHNICAL ADJUSTMENTS
Roundup and Aquamaster are glyphosate pesticides, but have different amounts of glyphosate. Technically, the “Roundup/Aquamaster” numbers have to be adjusted for the differing glyphosate content.
So we used the “Acid Equivalent” to convert all the number to Aquamaster-equivalent and adjusted the volume numbers. So, did it make a difference? Not much.
[Edited to Add (July 10, 2012): We did a more detailed study to compare various measures of NAP pesticide use. You can find that HERE.]
Between 2010 and 2011 the number of applications went up 21%. The adjusted volume of pesticide used went up 52%. Between 2009 and 2010, the number of applications went up 184%. The adjusted volume of pesticide used went up 264%.
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Pesticide use did not decrease.
- Amounts of pesticide used went up even more than the number of applications.