8 September 1995

Rise in drift illness

SPRAY drift continues to upset the public, especially where growers fail to tell people of their plans, according to the latest HSE report on pesticide incidents.

Inspectors investigated 251 cases in 1994/95, 128 of which were alleged to have caused illness to the public or to farm staff.

The figure is higher than for the past four years, particularly where health effects were suspected, which rose by almost half. But this could be because the complaints procedure has been made easier, says the HSEs Greg Bungay.

Pesticides were confirmed as responsible for ill health in 10 cases, half involving members of the public, and the likely cause in another 14 incidents. Reports on another 51 are awaited. 31 cases went to court, the average fine being £433, up from £248 last year.

Drift features strongly in general complaints. The HSEs John Bouckley says that advance warning is often a "good public relations exercise".

lA new free HSE leaflet Agricul-tural pesticides aims to help growers assess spraying risks and decide on precautions. &#42