In June last year, the Palau Environmental Quality Protection Board collaborated with the US EPA Region 9 Pacific Islands Office and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture in the testing of pesticides in vegetables that are farmed and sold in Palau.

The samples of various vegetables from most commercial farms in Palau were collected for pesticide residue testing by Hawaii Department of Agriculture Laboratory in Pearl City, Honolulu, Hawaii.

The results of the pesticide residue testing on the vegetable samples were sent to EQPB in January this year. Of the 61 pieces of vegetables collected from 17 commercial farms in Palau, only one sample was found in violation of the EQPB Pesticide Regulations. A sample of Chinese Okra from one of the farms was tested positive for Methomyl residue.

Methomyl, also known as Lannate, is commonly used in commercial farms as “Restricted use pesticide” requiring applicators to be certified and licensed.  Results received from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture indicated that this particular farm was also applying the pesticide in elevated concentrations.

EQPB has taken corrective actions against the owner of the farm and implores the public, especially State Governments, to be aware of the commercial farms within their states and check if they have the appropriate permits for farming.

Importation of pesticides requires an EQPB permit and any pesticide other than the ones already present on island require registration. Pesticides can be toxic to both the environment and humans if ingested through water or food contents. They can have detrimental health impacts to humans, especially children and the elderly.

In addition, once Palau’s waters and environment is polluted with pesticides, it would be very costly to treat and mitigate.

The EQPB would like to extend its appreciation to the US EPA Region 9 Pacific Islands Office and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture for their support. This mutual cooperation between EQPB and these offices is a tremendous assistance to Palau due to their laboratory capability to test for pesticides.  (PR)