Pesticides in Residential Areas of Half Moon Bay


Posted by on Sat, November 7, 2009

As a person with allergies from many chemical agents, and a concerned parent and citizen, I am writing to decry the use of heavy pesticides in the fields south of the townhouse community on South Main Street. I keep my workplace windows open to minimize indoor air pollution. Imagine my surprise when, upon opening the windows on a beautiful, sunny day early last week, my nose and lungs were assaulted by the smell of heavy pesticides coming from the area just north of the theater and fire station.

There are many families with children living in this immediate area, as well as several communities of seniors. Chemical pesticides are a known irritant and carcinogen.  I have not been aware of their use in Half Moon Bay in recent years. It would be great to have Coastsider investigate this story. I’d be interested in learning who owns the fields and exactly what types of pesticides are being used. They appeared to be in a gaseous or liquid form, because the odor was pervasive and remained in the air throughout the week. It was mitigated by a bit by Friday’s rain.

Sande Anfang
Half Moon Bay

From your description, it sounds like it could be one of Giusti’s properties.  For just the reason you mention, I looked at pesticide releases in that area a few years back when CUSD was contemplating a middle school across the highway.  I found Giusti to be a chemical “freak,” so whined a bit about the wisdom of using that area for a school, given the tendency of pesticides to drift (as you are experiencing).  Certainly, agribusiness is incompatible near or within urban settings, and shouldn’t be allowed, but that’s a tough battle.

I found maps and records of pesticide releases at the County Farm Bureau on Main Street.  You might go there for more info.  Here’s Giusti’s 2002 releases:

“SITE   1”,“06/07/2002”,14.00,“A”,62719,50001,“AA”,0,  42.0000,“OZ”,“AA”,0,“SUCCESS”
“SITE   1”,“06/07/2002”,14.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  10.5000,“OZ”,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   1”,“06/25/2002”,12.00,“A”,3125,457,“AA”,0,  36.0000,“OZ”,“PROVADO 1.6 FLOWABLE”
“SITE   1”,“07/15/2002”,12.00,“A”,352,597,“AA”,0,  36.0000,“OZ”,“DU PONT AVAUNT INSECTICIDE”
“SITE   1”,“07/15/2002”,12.00,“A”,19713,231,“AA”,0,  18.0000,“PT”,“DREXEL DIMETHOATE 4EC”
“SITE   1”,“07/15/2002”,12.00,“A”,50534,188,“AA”,10182,9.0000,“QT”,“BRAVO WEATHER STIK”
“SITE   1”,“07/22/2002”,7.00,“A”,3125,457,“AA”,0,  21.0000,“OZ”,“PROVADO 1.6 FLOWABLE”
“SITE   1”,“07/22/2002”,7.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  5.2500,“QT”,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   1”,“08/09/2002”,14.00,“A”,3125,457,“AA”,0,  42.0000,“OZ”,“PROVADO 1.6 FLOWABLE”
“SITE   1”,“08/09/2002”,14.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  10.5000,“QT”,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   1”,“08/16/2002”,7.00,“A”,62719,50001,“AA”,0,  21.0000,“OZ”,“SUCCESS”
“SITE   1”,“08/16/2002”,7.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  5.2500,“QT”,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   1”,“08/16/2002”,7.00,“A”,10163,21,“AA”,0,  10.5000,“PT”,“PROKIL MALATHION 8E”
“SITE   1”,“08/22/2002”,12.00,“A”,62719,50001,“AA”,0,  36.0000,“OZ”,“SUCCESS”
“SITE   1”,“08/22/2002”,12.00,“A”,3125,457,“AA”,0,  36.0000,“OZ”,“PROVADO 1.6 FLOWABLE”
“SITE   1”,“08/22/2002”,12.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  9.0000,“QT”,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   1”,“08/22/2002”,14.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  56.0000,“OZ”,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   1”,“08/22/2002”,14.00,“A”,3125,457,“AA”,0,  52.5000,“OZ”,“PROVADO 1.6 FLOWABLE”
“SITE   1”,“08/22/2002”,14.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  14.0000,“QT”,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   1”,“08/28/2002”,14.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  3.5000,“GA”,32,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   1”,“08/28/2002”,14.00,“A”,19713,231,“AA”,0,  3.5000,“GA”,“DREXEL DIMETHOATE 4EC”
“SITE   1”,“08/28/2002”,14.00,“A”,3125,457,“AA”,0,  0.4100,“GA”,“PROVADO 1.6 FLOWABLE”
“SITE   1”,“08/28/2002”,14.00,“A”,50534,188,“AA”,10182,  3.5000,“GA”,10182,“BRAVO WEATHER STIK”
“SITE   1”,“08/28/2002”,14.00,“A”,352,597,“AA”,0,  49.0000,“OZ”,“DU PONT AVAUNT INSECTICIDE”
“SITE   1”,“08/28/2002”,14.00,“A”,11656,50095,“AA”,0,  0.3300,“GA”,“FIRST CHOICE BREAK-THRU”
“SITE   3”,“04/20/2002”,14.00,“A”,62719,250,“AA”,0,  21.0000,“PT”,“TREFLAN HFP”
“SITE   3”,“04/28/2002”,7.00,“A”,524,475,“ZB”,0,  10.5000,“PT”,“ROUNDUP ULTRA HERBICIDE”
“SITE   3”,“04/20/2002”,7.00,“A”,62719,250,“AA”,0,  10.5000,“PT”,“TREFLAN HFP”
“SITE   3”,“05/06/2002”,7.00,“A”,524,475,“ZB”,0,  10.5000,“PT”,“ROUNDUP ULTRA HERBICIDE”
“SITE   3”,“05/01/2002”,6.00,“A”,5481,483,“AA”,0,  96.0000,“GA”,“K-PAM HL”
“SITE   3”,“05/01/2002”,6.00,“A”,5481,350,“AA”,34704,  120.0000,“GA”,“CLEAN CROP METAM SODIUM”
“SITE   3”,“05/02/2002”,7.00,“A”,5481,350,“AA”,34704,  140.0000,“GA”,“CLEAN CROP METAM SODIUM”
“SITE   3”,“06/03/2002”,20.00,“A”,62719,50001,“AA”,0,  60.0000,“OZ”,“SUCCESS”
“SITE   3”,“06/03/2002”,20.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  15.0000,“QT”,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   3”,“06/24/2002”,20.00,“A”,3125,457,“AA”,0,  60.0000,“OZ”,“PROVADO 1.6 FLOWABLE”
“SITE   3”,“06/24/2002”,20.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  15.0000,“QT”,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   3”,“07/19/2002”,20.00,“A”,62719,50001,“AA”,0,  60.0000,“OZ”,“SUCCESS”
“SITE   3”,“07/19/2002”,20.00,“A”,19713,231,“AA”,0,  30.0000,“PT”,“DREXEL DIMETHOATE 4EC”
“SITE   3”,“07/19/2002”,20.00,“A”,50534,188,“AA”,10182,  15.0000,“QT”,“BRAVO WEATHER STIK”
“SITE   3”,“08/08/2002”,20.00,“A”,3125,457,“AA”,0,  60.0000,“OZ”,“PROVADO 1.6 FLOWABLE”
“SITE   3”,“08/08/2002”,20.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  15.0000,“QT”,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   3”,“08/08/2002”,20.00,“A”,55146,64,“AA”,0,  20.0000,“PT”,“CHAMP FORMULA 2 FLOWABLE”
“SITE   3”,“08/23/2002”,20.00,“A”,10163,220,“AA”,0,  75.0000,“OZ”,“METASYSTOX-R INSECTICIDE”
“SITE   3”,“08/23/2002”,20.00,“A”,10163,220,“AA”,0,  5.0000,“GA”,“METASYSTOX-R INSECTICIDE”
“SITE   3”,“08/23/2002”,20.00,“A”,62719,220,“AA”,0,  5.0000,“GA”,“LORSBAN 4E-HF”
“SITE   3”,“08/23/2002”,20.00,“A”,19713,231,“AA”,0,  5.0000,“GA”,“DREXEL DIMETHOATE 4EC”
“SITE   3”,“08/23/2002”,20.00,“A”,50534,188,“AA”,10182,  5.0000,“GA”,“BRAVO WEATHER STIK”
“SITE   3”,“08/23/2002”,20.00,“A”,352,597,“AA”,0,  70.0000,“OZ”,“DU PONT AVAUNT INSECTICIDE”
“SITE   3”,“08/23/2002”,20.00,“A”,11656,50009,“AA”,0,  1.2500,“GA”,“NO FOAM B”
“SITE   3”,“08/23/2002”,20.00,“A”,3125,457,“AA”,0,  0.5900,“GA”,“PROVADO 1.6 FLOWABLE”

What give you the right to “keep [your] workplace windows open to minimize indoor air pollution” and sully the air surrounding your home, workplace or community and the coastal farmland?  Is your pollution better than theirs, especially since farmland was there first.

When towns (old agricultural villages) encroach upon farmland - daries, cattle, sheep, flowers, artichoakes, brussel sprouts…, you run that risk of various pesticides unless those facilities are organic (I would bet there is pollution on those organic farms too - maybe a tractor or a smoker with a hoe).

You made the choice to live where you are; further, why are you removing inhouse pollution onto our farmland?

The SFX and the HMB airport was in place long before many of the houses located there now and now we don’t lke noise pollution. I bet you even have a automobile and what happened to walking on synthetic soles that wear down and leave a residue like tires?

There are no completely safe places in life including secondary smoke from all those smokers or BBQs or chemical plants in Richmond. 

My suggestion, move - the mojave desert isn’t too bad except for places like Yucca Flats or mine tailings and processing industries…!

Hopefully, the use of the pestcides (home and agricultural) are used safely for their purpose and intent, but don’t count on it.  We all give off a fart and some toot, shoot or have a reefer and those people adds to someone discomfort in the name of self-medication.

Remember, if you get rust on your rose bud, a rose is still a rose, Oh, and the aphis….  If you get my drift, you know that your chemicals may drift in my direction so keep your windows closed ;-)

Jack, beneath your thin veil of sarcasm, you express the all-too-common, self-contradicting, conservative mindset that one should be able to do whatever they want with their own property, even if that means imposing on someone else’s property.

And you justify this, in part, by saying the farm was there first?  So, when the farm property was acquired, it also came with rights to the use of adjacent properties because those properties were sparsely occupied at the time?

And was HMB still an “old, agricultural village” when Dow introduced Lorsban in ‘65, thus entitling Giusti to share it with his present day neighbors?

And there’s also the simple matter of scale.  Of course, (as a “lefty”), I’d love it if houses and diesel tractors didn’t generate air pollution (and I hope we achieve that ideal some day).  But the impact to the air quality of Giusti’s gallons of Lorsban relative to the toxic outgassing of the plywood in Sande’s new couch and bookcase are at least several orders of magnitude out of comparison.

Perhaps you wrote in the persona of Stephen Colbert, and I didn’t pick up on it, but I think your silly argument does more to discredit your position than to support it.

Comment 4
Sun, November 8, 2009 9:24am
Barry Parr
All my comments

“The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

— Oliver Wendell Holmes

Helen Acosta noted that the big question is, “where exactly does my nose really begin and where does your fist really end?”

Carl Sagan said, “We are torn between the craving to know and the despair of having known.” 

Knowing that HMB and the coastal area is agricultural, as is the Central Valley, you can expect the harm of pesticides to be lingering as you cannot recall the bullet once fired.  The EPA issued warnings on many products, yet most of us do not adhere to these warning labels -tobacco/alcohol/pesticides/ahesives/fabrics…. Yet, as Oscar Wilde said, “The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple”

We reside and work in dangerous environments of our own making.  The harm we incur is a risk, and saying that, our succeeding generations have lived longer….  Our agricultural economy has produced yields that have kept us in groceries that are unheard of in other economies that have rejected our yield perfering organic farming that has not been able to keep up with their supply and demand or personal needs.  There is no proof that organic farming is safer or extends people life expectancy; it is more expensive and cannot keep up with demand, if in fact there is a demand, and a great deal of organic farming results in the vagaries of all farming including spoilage.

“The fight over our social contract in nearly every argument is related to personal vs. public safety.” Yet, the public are risk takers using tobacco and other inhalants, and ingesting alcohol….  I bet for every strict organic buyer of agricultural products they have a double standard principle - they may smoke or use alcohol or consume products as supplements to their nutrition.  In fact, look around at your furnishings and complaint of needig to air your house out of pollutants.  Those pollutants go someplace and maybe that is into your neighbors space. (My guess is your pollution is an intrusion and not just abutting up to the nose.)

Even with the EPA warnings, the consumer continues to be in the market for TV’s and electronic devices that can give off harmful magnetic’s, radiations or gasses that affect our being. George Seifert reminds us that “The problem here is that we haven’t solved the problem. And its been an ongoing problem.”  Again, our life expectancy is still longer than most other countries and those that do live longer are often partaking in the same products that we have in our homes.  Furnishing that have adhesives made in their country are often the same as made in our country - consider the Scandinavian countries who may have a higher life expectancy!  Of course, you could build your own furnishings without adhesives; that might be an easy solution.

Certainly, you should be concerned about pollutants (it is better to know than just despair) and we should do more to reduce a harm, but maybe it starts with the consumer who demands more production.  If you are concerned about the dangers in your community, so be it, but you made choices or decisions to live there and to consume and find alternatives.  In many cases, you know the risks (over effeciency to build your own pollution free environment) as many of them are known, published and within sight.  What is polluted may not be recalled - even the EPA superfund remediation program cannot keep up and life still goes on and chance are you will live to a ripe old age late into the 70s or 80s and many of these “agers” are pretty functional until the end.  Do you really want to live longer?  How much longer?

By the way, I grew up on a farm and later in agricultural villages as well as cites and suburban communities that used pesticides and all are affected by adhesives and electronics….  My dad spent 50 years on a farm and lived until 90; my mom lived for 30 years on a farm and she is 89; my MIL just died at 93 and her husband died in his 80s and both were on farms a great deal of their life.  The point is that genes, luck and a lot of other variables play a role in living and yes, there were around all those adhesives and electronics and the vagaries of other pollutants….

I have a hunch you had some idea what you were getting into and information was available but you like the beauty of the bucolic life over doing your homework.  It is an overlay of the labeling controversy over tobacco and alcohol that has warned us for 40 years or so and still people take a toke or a toot and maybe we are tipplers too! Oh, and those suing the tobacco industry are still awarded huge compensation for their error in judgement those that may be changing.

Thanks, Barry and Steve. I wasn’t going to begin to respond to Jack’s response, since I’m working hard to be healthy, and you both responded so masterfully. Great quote, Barry. Amen.

Here’s the toxicology report on one of the pesticides included in Steve’s scanned files: Drexel Dimethoate:

Thanks Sandra,
This site may be more applicable for San Mateo County on the issue that concerns many of us.  The problem is complicated and more so by regions.  Many properties have been sold many times and by the time tests are undertaken, no one can be certain of the residual effects of prior chemical use by previous owners.

As much as we would like to reduce the footprints, some may be irreversible….  My point is that all of us are responsible for pollution while others are natural events.  There is probably not a property in HMB and the coastal area that was not in agriculture or forestry or fisheries that have not been touched and are currently polluted and have been for nearly a century.

What set me off was what I viewed as a flippant remark, “I keep my workplace windows open to minimize indoor air pollution. Imagine my surprise when, upon opening the windows on a beautiful, sunny day early last week, my nose and lungs were assaulted by the smell of heavy pesticides coming from the area just north of the theater and fire station.”

Your complain about indoor pollution and ridding it by opening a window only to be victimized by other’s pollution seemed to me that it was OK for you to pollute by ridding your indoor space (your pollution has to go somewhere and that is victimizing others even if it appears nearly measurably negilable).  Sometimes “it all depends on whose ox is being gored,” theirs or yours….

I am confident we will not reduce pollution by much even if the agribusiness…. moves away.  The carbon footprint by a growing HMB just transfers one group of pollutants for another and who is to say which set is worst.  Nihilistic? Perhaps!

While your comments may hold up logically as philosophical arguments, philosophy is not what’s making us or the planet sick, and it won’t rectify the situation. As Steve said in his first response, I’m talking about new latex paint, residue from carpets and cleaning chemicals, and white board markers when I refer to indoor pollutants, not carcinogenic pesticides. These are things most of us live with every day, but they make some of us (including me) sick. There is simply no comparison between the two types of pollutants. Nonetheless, these indoor pollutants continue to add incremental amounts of stress to our toxic loads, the loads that begin with events like pesticide bombings.


I have a former girlfriend who has serious MCSS and she was finally placed in Kauai, Hawaii.  We all cannot live there.  Very little is known about what sets this response off - some materials like perfume and body deodorant can be the culprit.  Many other origins are unknown. 

Perhaps you are lucky and know what sets your condition off, but if that is not the case maybe you are attributing the problem to that which is not the culprit such as “latex paint, residue from carpets and cleaning chemicals, and white board markers.”  My guess is that your are being cautious,

If you have not been assess for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome or MCS disorder, you should do so for peace of mind and perhaps get to the facts of your condition.  Don’t forget ADA accommodation by employers and others… that may affect your sensitivity.  Perhaps you can reduce the condition by researching places that seem to be more accommodating to your condition. 

Don’t forget MCSS support groups.  You probably know these about sites better than I do, but I found them useful when I learned of Sheila’s condition and there are many more sites I have not researched: