Luis Medellin and Karl Tupper set up a drift catcher in Lindsay, CA.

My radio story on pesticide drift looks at how residents in the citrus town of Lindsay are monitoring pesticides in the air and in their bodies. They are using a device called a Drift Catcher, modeled after technology used by the California Air Resources Board and the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

The pesticide drift catcher has a vacuum pump that sucks air into a glass test tube, where pesticide residues are trapped in a resin. Community members change out the test tubes and send them to a lab, where scientists crack them open, extract the residues with an organic solvent, and then analyze those extracts through gas chromatography.

The Lindsay study measures Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that can cause headaches, blurred vision, and muscle weakness when people breathe in the air from a recently-sprayed orchard or field. Studies also show prenatal exposure MAY have effects on children’s cognitive and motor skills.

Environmental lawyers are using preliminary data from the Lindsay drift catchers in a petition asking the EPA to create pesticide buffer zones around schools, child care centers, and hospitals.

Listen to the Catching the Drift – Part Two radio report online.

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Author

Sasha Khokha

Sasha Khokha is the host of The California Report  weekly magazine program, which takes listeners on sound-rich radio excursions around the Golden State.

As The California Report's Central Valley Bureau Chief for nearly a dozen years, Sasha brought the lives and concerns of rural Californians to listeners around the state. Sasha's reporting helped exposed the hidden price immigrant women janitors and farmworkers may pay to keep their jobs: sexual assault at work -- and helped change California law with regard to sexual harassment of farmworkers.  She's won a national PRNDI award for investigative reporting, as well as multiple prizes from the Radio Television News Directors Association and the Society for Professional Journalists.

She began her radio career in waterproof overalls, filing stories about the salmon fishery at Raven Radio in Sitka, AK. She has produced and reported for several documentary films. Calcutta Calling, about children adopted from India to Swedish-Lutheran Minnesota, was nominated for an Emmy Award.

Sasha is  a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Brown University, and is the mother of two young children.

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