Earth Day Reminder: Department program aims to protect land and water resources

by | Apr 22, 2023

Earth Day is a good time to remember a program within the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that focuses on safety and environmental protection. That program is the Pesticide Disposal Assistance Program (PDAP), which protects our lands, surface water and groundwater from potential pesticide contamination – contamination that could potentially harm human health and the environment through improper disposal, leaks, spills, or illegal dumping.

The Pesticide Disposal Assistance Program helps coordinate drop-off events across the state such as this one in Jackson County.

The program is now in its 43rd year, and it’s as busy as ever collecting and properly disposing of pesticides. Scheduling of collection events is ongoing, with several on the calendar for this spring.

“It definitely helps folks who are trying to do the right thing,” said PDAP manager Derrick Bell. “It gives them an option to keep pesticides out of the waterways and maintains our valuable farm land and water resources.”

Through their work, Bell and his PDAP coworkers in the department’s Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division provide the farmers and homeowners of North Carolina with safe ways to collect and lawfully dispose of banned, outdated or unwanted pesticides. Since 1980, the program has collected more than 4.5 million pounds of pesticides, and Bell expects that number to surpass five million this year.

“The most recent ten years have been the highest ten years in program history,” Bell said. “That includes 2020, the pandemic year. We couldn’t even have collections in the first half of the year, but then we set a seasonal record in the fall of 2020 because people had been waiting to dispose of what they had.”

In the past five years, PDAP has averaged 205,392 pounds collected each fiscal year. In the ’21-’22 fiscal year, the program collected a new record of 281,558 pounds of pesticides. Contributing to that total was some time-limited special funding approved by the N.C. General Assembly that helped boost collection efforts in the spring of 2022. The funding came in response to the backlog created by the pandemic shut-down.

Safely dispose of your old and unwanted pesticides during an upcoming collection day.

Generally, PDAP aims to be in each county every other year and to be in a neighboring county every six to eight months. In addition to hosting its own collection events, PDAP also sponsors pesticides collections as part of counties’ locally-run household hazardous waste collections. A third-party disposal company is responsible for taking the pesticides and safely disposing of them.

““For a county, pesticides are often one of the most costly items for disposal, but with the help of NCDA&CS, it can kickstart a county’s HHW program and allows counties to accept pesticides because of our involvement,” Bell said.

The following from the PDAP report this spring expands on the purpose behind the program:

Over 3 million North Carolinians rely on groundwater as their primary drinking water source, and the state has 5,200 square miles of surface water, including many drinking water reservoirs. North Carolina’s PDAP began in 1980 as the first program of its kind in the nation and has since properly disposed of over 4.5 million pounds of pesticides, thus ensuring the protection of water quality from potential pesticide contamination.”

The following events are not open for dealerships, and minibulks/IBCs, cylinders, unknown materials and fertilizers cannot be accepted at the event.  Additionally, bulk liquid items (>5 gal) may require previously arranged additional preparations before acceptance.  For assistance, clarification and information regarding these situations, contact the PDAP by emailing or calling 919-280-1061, or your local Cooperative Extension office, before the event.

Upcoming Pesticide Disposal Assistance Program collections include the following, listed by date and county. Each collection is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • April 25
    • Washington (Tidewater Research Station – 207 Research Station Rd., Plymouth)
  • April 26
    • Halifax (County Extension Office – 359 Ferrell Lane, Halifax)
  • April 27
    • Person (Hyco Warehouse – 1965 Durham Rd, Roxboro)
  • May 2
    • Alleghany (Alleghany Fairgrounds – 1375 US Highway 21N, Sparta)
  • May 3
    • Yadkin (County Landfill – 1149 Landfill Rd., Yadkinville)
    • Stokes (County Extension Office – 700 N Main St, Danbury)
  • May 4
    • Caswell (Forestry Service Building – 973 Firetower Rd., Yanceyville)
  • May 9
    • Cherokee (Lot beside Murphy Health & Fitness – 699 Connahetta St., Murphy)
    • Graham (Lot beside Dollar General – 18 Sweetwater Rd, Robbinsville)

The following list shows dates and counties that are partnering with PDAP for pesticide collection during each county’s household hazardous waste collection event. These events are open ONLY to their county residents and may not be able to accommodate large loads of pesticide drop-offs, so prior coordination may be needed, or collections run directly by PDAP may be a better option.

  • May 6
    • Catawba
      • 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
      • Hickory American Legion Fairgrounds
      • 1 American Legion Ave., Newton
    • Alexander
      • 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
      • County Administration Office
      • 621 Liledoun Rd., Taylorsville
    • Hertford
      • 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
      • NCVA Railroad in Downtown Ahoskie
      • 214 N. Railroad St, Ahoskie
    • Harnett
      • 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
      • County Courthouse
      • 301 W. Cornelius Harnett Blvd., Lillington
  • May 11
    • Dare
      • 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
      • Kitty Hawk Town Hall
      • 101 Veterans Memorial Dr., Kitty Hawk
  • May 12
    • Dare
      • 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
      • Buxton Transfer Station
      • 47015 Buxton Back Rd., Buxton
  • May 13
    • Dare
      • 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
      • County Public Works
      • 1018 Driftwood Dr., Manteo
    • Onslow
      • 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
      • Landfill/Solid Waste Management Facility
      • 415 Meadowview Rd., Jacksonville
  • May 20
    • Granville
      • 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
      • Granville Co. Expo
      • 4185 U.S. Hwy. 15, Oxford