- Associated Press - Friday, December 16, 2016

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - Hawaii is launching several new projects and implementing new rules aimed at addressing concerns about pesticide exposure.

The state Department of Health and Department of Agriculture revealed the details of their new pesticide plan on Wednesday. The plan includes new worker protection standards as well as increased monitoring and data collection of pesticide use to provide more transparency.

The state has also decided to triple the cost of registering pesticides. The extra money will fund new monitoring efforts, said DOA Chairman Scott Enright.

Many of the new initiatives are based on recommendations from the Kauai Joint Fact-Finding Report, which was produced in May. Enright said the goal of the report was “to see if we could substantiate claims about pesticide usage,” but it found that there were “no environmental or public health problems that could be demonstrated at this time.”

Virginia Pressler, the director of the health department, said both state agencies are still working to improve data collection.

“What we really need is longitudinal data (data over time),” Enright said. “That’s what we’re going for.”

One project being implanted under the plan next year is a statewide outreach program designed to ensure pesticides are not sprayed in an area without people who live nearby first being informed. The program is modeled after Kauai’s Good Neighbor Program.

The DOH will also require pesticide usage to be reported every month and made available to the public on state websites. The department is also going to provide annual training and medical testing for those who apply pesticides.

The DOA said it has hired a deputy attorney general to work on pesticide investigations and plans to hire an additional five investigators next year. Enright said a backlog of 780 cases has already been cut down to 150.

“We’re now in real time so we can continue to stay on top of our investigations,” he said.

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Information from: The Garden Island, https://thegardenisland.com/

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