PAN is so excited to share that a newly updated, more intuitive, and easier-to-use pesticide information database is now available to the public, accessible at pesticideinfo.org. Pesticide Info brings together a diverse array of information on pesticides from many sources, providing human toxicity, ecotoxicity, regulatory information, and more for over 15,000 pesticides. We chatted with two key members of the Pesticide Info update team, PAN Senior Scientist Margaret Reeves (MR) and PAN Digital Production Manager Andrew Olsen (AO) to get some insight on what the update process was like, and their hopes for how folks will use the new Pesticide Info going forward.
What was the initial idea for the Pesticide Info tool back in 2000, and what gaps did it fill in research and advocacy?
MR: We wanted to make information about pesticide health hazards readily available, for free, to anyone. As we believed it would, having access to this information has directly supported many campaigns, from state-based pesticide bans to imposing greater restrictions on how and where the most hazardous pesticides can be used.
Why is community access to information like this important?
MR: When a community-based problem arises, you need a quick, targeted, well-informed response. If, for example, a poisoning incident occurs, the affected groups and those acting on their behalf want to know right away what the short- and long-term human and environmental health effects are. In California, where use data are available, we'd also want to know where this pesticide is commonly applied so we can make clear the likely extent of the problem throughout the state.
What was the motivation for updating the tool, and what did that process entail?
AO: Pesticide Info has been a great resource that provides real data transparency. However, the design was really out-of-date and we were motivated to make this tool much more intuitive for our users. There are multiple, complex elements to the process of redesigning a site like this. They include audience surveys, data surveys, structurally digging into the code and seeking ways to modernize the delivery of the data, plus an entire redesign of the front-end interface. It was many months of work to get the site launch-ready.
What do you think is the most useful or compelling piece of the new Pesticide Info site?
AO: For me, number one is how much more intuitive the site is, and how the data is now organized into both tabs and cards. This creates readable chunks of information, and hopefully it's much easier for someone to find the information they're looking for.
MR: I really like the new data from our international PAN partners that show both the pesticide bans by country and the PAN International categorization of Highly Hazardous Pesticides.
PAN sees the updated Pesticide Info as an important and useful tool that brings transparent science and data to the people, and we hope you’ll be able to use this in your own communities and advocacy work! Interested in learning more? You can view a recording of the Pesticide Info launch event, featuring a walkthrough of the tool, campaign examples, and a Q & A session with PAN staff and scientists (& moderator Sandra Steingraber!) below.