"The occurrence of pesticides in the atmosphere is an important national issue. Studies have
documented that some pesticides found in the atmosphere and in water have resulted from agricultural applications. Dissipation and accumulation of pesticide residues can limit the efficacy of some pesticide materials. Pesticides and transformation products in the atmosphere can be major health concerns and cause plant damage far from their sites of application. For example, methyl bromide, a widely used soil fumigant, has been implicated in damage to the stratospheric ozone layer. More than half of applied materials may ultimately reach the atmosphere. Today, pesticides have been detected in the atmosphere throughout the country, and a wide variety of pesticides are present in air, rain, snow, and fog. There is significant evidence that pesticides used in one part of the United States are carried through the atmosphere and deposited in other parts of the nation and beyond, sometimes in places where they are not even used.
Even in the Arctic and Antarctic, pesticides are found in the air, snow, people, and animals. The extent
of atmospheric pesticide contamination has not been adequately studied. No one knows for sure just how many people nationwide have been sickened by pesticide drift. The federal government doesn’t officially track such cases. But researchers at the EPA and the CDC have estimated that there are more than 5,000 serious poisonings a year from accidental drift.
Off-target spray can affect human health and the environment. For example, spray drift can result in pesticide exposures to farmworkers, children playing outside, and wildlife and its habitat. Drift can also contaminate a home garden or another farmer’s crops, causing illegal pesticide residues and/or plant damage. The proximity of individuals and sensitive sites to the pesticide application, the amounts of pesticide drift, and the toxicity of the pesticide are important factors in determining the potential impacts from drift. The drift of spray from pesticide applications can expose people, wildlife, and the environment to pesticide residues that can cause health and environmental effects as well as property damage.
Marvin J. Levine, Pesticides_ a toxic time bomb in our midst , 2007.