How To Avoid Pesticide Drift in Your Organic Garden

Staff scientist Emily Marquez of the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) addresses how to take action against pesticide drift by: alerting the National Pesticide Information Center, filing reports, and using the “Drift Catcher.”

| Fall 2019

Photo by Getty Images/humonia

Question: I’m trying to garden organically, but I’m concerned about pesticide drift. How can I tell whether drift is affecting my property, and what can I do about it? — Blair Gordon

Emily Marquez: Pesticides do indeed “drift” and damage plants in neighboring areas. If the drifting chemical is an herbicide, then you may notice damage to plants, including loss of foliage, yellowing vegetation at the wrong time of year, twisted or downward-cupped leaves, or damage occurring only on certain portions of leaves. Symptoms of human acute exposure to pesticides include: headaches, difficulty breathing, or skin irritation. But there are ways to take action. Start by documenting the problem, if possible.                  

Then, file a report with both the National Pesticide Information Center and the lead pesticide or public health agency in your state, and press for an immediate investigation. To inquire about what pesticide was sprayed — and by whom — contact your state pesticide regulatory agency, which you can find at NPIC. Join, or start a community group to address pesticide drift in your area.

Scientists within the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) have been working nationally with communities to implement an easy-to-use tool called the “Drift Catcher” for monitoring airborne pesticides, and to demand policy changes. Contact PAN to learn more about this device at its website.

Emily Marquez is a PAN staff scientist who works with community partners using the PAN Drift Catcher.

Feeling stumped? Write to us!



February 15-16, 2020
Belton, Texas

Join us in the Lone Star state to explore ways to save money and live efficiently. This two-day event includes hands-on workshops and a marketplace featuring the latest homesteading products.


Subscribe today

Heirloom GardenerCultivate your love of historic plant varieties and traditional recipes with a subscription to Heirloom Gardener magazine today!

Don’t miss a single issue of Heirloom Gardener. Published by the editors of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Heirloom Gardener provides decades of organic gardening experience from the most trusted voices in the field. Subscribe today and save as much as 38% off the newsstand price! Get one year (4 issues) for only $24.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube

click me