Someone sprayed pesticide along the road next to our house. It is pretty obvious as you look along both sides of the road.
Now I can guess what happened, based on the results. Trees underneath power lines are dead, although not all of them. There are a lot of other plants that were killed as well–grasses and a stand of Equisetum for example.
So I think it was power crews spraying along the power-line right of way. Trees growing into power lines can cause problems. I could also probably make an educated guess as to which pesticides may have been used.
We really appreciate the power line crews around here. We have been involved in events of nature that brought down the power lines, and the crews worked tirelessly to get power restored to large numbers of people.
I have no intention of being critical of the power line crews. However, I think there is huge problem with the way pesticides are applied in this country–there is a general lack information about what was applied and when it was applied. Pesticides cannot be applied out of doors without the potential to expose people, animals, and plants in the environment to those chemicals. That leaves people who are potentially exposed to pesticides without some basic information. That also leaves environmental scientists without basic information about pesticides in the environment.
Here is some information that I believe should be freely available to me (or to anyone who might be working on health or water quality issues):
Was there a pesticide applied? Who applied it? What were they trying to accomplish with the application? What pesticide was applied? When was it applied? (I really think I should know when will it be applied). Will the pesticide harm me if I wade into the grass to take a picture of a bug? Will the pesticide harm my dog if he wades into the grass. If it is harmful, for how long will it be harmful? Is the pesticide safe around water? How much is in my drinking water? Is there any in the air?
Now forget about the public road right-of-way. How about pesticides applied to fields around here? Agriculture row crops take up about two thirds of the landscape of Iowa. What pesticide is being applied by that airplane flying over the fields? What pesticides are applied to golf courses? What is applied for mosquito control? What is my neighbor spraying in the air? Is that stuff in the water? Is that stuff in the air?
That information should be made available in one place, easily accessible, and calibrated for accuracy. It should not be overly simplified, but it should be understandable.
There needs to be a nation-wide pesticide use tracking system. It needs to tie in geographical information and keep historical information. And it needs to be easy to use.