We are cheering California’s steps to limit risks to pesticide exposure for families who are under stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic as it will help humans and non-humans from the harmful effects of toxic chemicals.

California Governor Gavin Newsom directed all counties in the state to tighten restrictions on pesticide use and prohibit the use of pesticides applications when there is a “reasonable possibility of contamination of people not involved in the pesticide application process.”

Pesticides pose a threat to the immune and respiratory systems that could make those exposed more susceptible to COVID-19. Chronic diseases such as asthma, allergy, emphysema and COPD disrupt normal immune system function that results in inflammation. This inflammation can prompt a heightened response to viruses such as COVID-19. In the U.S., these diseases have been on the rise and are associated with an increase in chemicals used in pesticides and other products.

As part of the heightened restrictions announced this month by the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation, California will take a tougher approach to penalizing farm operations that violate the rule with fines up to $5,000 per incident, prioritize investigations of violations near homes and schools and promote the use of the state’s mobile app where pesticide drift can be reported.

Newsom said the directive was part of the state’s commitment to transition away from harmful chemicals.

“We must find common ground on these issues,’’ Newsom said, “and create the space for communities, stakeholders, and all Californians to work together on the intricately connected areas of healthy soils, alternative pest management strategies, agricultural economies, community and worker health and safety, food systems and environmental resource priorities all while transitioning away from harmful chemicals.”