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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

State Investigating Use of Pesticide Near School

November 11, 2000

VENTURA — State regulators are trying to determine whether a citrus grower allowed a pesticide cloud to drift over Mound School. The incident has prompted calls from parents, teachers and administrators for tighter controls on such applications near schools.

Dozens of students and teachers complained of dizziness, headaches and nausea earlier this week after the early-morning application of an insecticide known as Lorsban on a lemon orchard across the street. Two children went home.

Application was halted by county agricultural inspectors shortly before the start of school. But by then, parents and staff members said, fumes had blown onto the east Ventura campus with a noxious mist.

"It just looked like a heavy fog drifting toward the school," said crossing guard Emma L. Smith, who was the first to report the incident. "It was bad."

But citrus and avocado rancher Dan Campbell, who has been spraying the 200-acre grove for 25 years, said he does not believe any drift took place and, if it did, it was purely accidental. Nevertheless, Campbell informed the school that he will no longer spray during school hours.

State regulators are analyzing swabs taken at Mound School. Application of Lorsban was banned for most household uses by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year because of a long-term risk to children.

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