A new five-year $5 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will fund expanded online services like more mobile apps, interactive content and video tutorials regarding proper pesticide application offered by the National Pesticide Information Center at Oregon State University.
The center, which already operates a national hotline, will also offer webinars for the medical community and state and federal regulators with the new grant, announced this week.
"The award represents a new vision for our national service that emphasizes modern online and mobile delivery. We want to be where people are when they need us," said Kaci Buhl, project coordinator for the center. "Online content allows us to better fulfill our mission of limiting the misuse of pesticides, reducing risk and promoting public health."
OSU has operated the national service since 1995, which is funded by the EPA in three- to five-year cycles.
Last year, more than 1.8 million visitors accessed NPIC's website, which received more than 32 million overall hits. The service also answered questions from more than 17,000 people by phone and email.
The NPIC has also launched four mobile-friendly apps. The most popular, the Pesticide Education and Search Tool, offers quick, bulleted information on more than a dozen common pests. The four apps aim to be immediately accessible to users and suggest alternatives to pesticides for common urban pests, like fleas, rodents and bed bugs.
The service also continues to add hundreds of pages and new services to its website, including a ZIP code-driven locator for emergency services. It is also beefing up its presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.
The NPIC's toll-free hotline is available in more than 170 languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Russian and Farsi. Each submitted question is handled by an expert with advanced training in toxicology, food safety, veterinary medicine or other scientific field.
"While we offer a diverse array of services, each one aims to present the latest non-biased information. We encourage our clients to follow label instructions, steer them away from home remedies and direct them to a range of non-chemical options to control pests," said Dave Stone, the center's director and professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.
The NPIC also collects data on pesticide incidents to inform national surveillance systems.
The hotline can be reached at 1-800-858-7378 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Pacific time Monday through Friday.
Are you confident in preparing your sprayer for the season ahead? Do you know how to best minimize herbicide spray drift? Brush up with our free report, Best Practices For Spraying: Get The Most Out Of Your Sprayer