What is Pesticide Drift

Even the most careful, responsible pesticide sprayer cannot control what happens to pesticide droplets once they are released from his plane or tractor. And when conditions are right, these droplets can end up setting on someone’s yard, on another farmer’s crops, or on the skin of someone who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.”²

¹ (California Department of Pesticide Regulation)

² (Pesticide Action Network)

Drift is the movement of a pesticide through the air away from the intended target. This drift can be in the form of mist, particles or vapor (gas). It can be noticeable as a cloud of pesticide spray or dust, or can be invisible and odorless. (The term “pesticide” includes herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.)

According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, it is a violation of the Illinois Pesticide Act if the pesticide moves off the target area.   

Spray or Pesticide Drift describes drift that occurs during or shortly after the pesticide is applied.

Vapor drift happens when pesticides slowly evaporate into the air from out of the soil or off of a crop after application and it can take place for several days following an application.



Can drift occur even if damage to plant foliage doesn't appear?

YES!   Drift often occurs at a level that does not cause damage to leaves or other plant material.  However, that does not mean pesticide drift did not occur.   Pesticides can still be present even if leaves do not curl or plants do not die.  

It is the responsibility of the IDOA to determine if pesticide drift occurred.  If you suspect drift, even if you do not see damage, file the official complaint with the IDOA.  When the inspector arrives, insist samples from the area of drift are taken so they can be lab tested for pesticide.


Does it cost me anything to file a complaint?

NO.  Filing a complaint does not cost you any money.   If the inspector takes foliage samples, it does not cost you any money to have those lab samples analyzed.   The IDOA works for the citizens of Illinois.  Utilize this public service tool and file your official complaint when you suspect pesticide drift.


What legal action can I take if I have been a victim of pesticide drift?

If you have sustained damage to your property due to pesticide drift, you can file an insurance claim against the private applicator or the company that employed the applicator.  However, you do need to have proof pesticide drift occurred and that is obtained by filing the official complaint with the IDOA.