Chemicals – spray drift

Sprayed chemicals are extensively used in agriculture and horticulture for control of pests and weeds. Under certain conditions, this spray can drift over neighbouring properties, waterways and water tanks – this is referred to as spray drift. 

Spray drift can affect human, animal and environmental health, including household and farm water supplies, e.g. tank water.

The health impacts of exposure can depend on how and where a chemical is applied, the amount of drift, weather conditions and the toxicity of the chemical. If you have been exposed to chemical sprays through spray drift, and are concerned, there are a number of agencies you can contact for help.

It is important to consider a nozzle or sprayer setting that produces the largest possible droplet size (coarsest spray quality) without compromising the efficacy of the chemical. Larger droplets are less likely to drift.

Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel

Fast facts:

  • Spray drift can affect the environment, your health and the health of your family and neighbours.
  • Spray only if the weather is suitable (a steady 3-15km wind is ideal).
  • If you use tank water and spray lands on your roof, disconnect the collection pipe until it has rained or until the roof has been cleaned.

References used for this topic

More information:

Grains Research and Development Organisation (GRDC)
Spray drift
Spray drift – Ground Spray Calculator

Queensland Government
Minimising the impacts of spray drift

Victorian Poisons Information Centre
Prevention of poisoning

Provides Australian agricultural and veterinary chemical users with a recycling pathway for eligible empty agvet chemical containers

Managing Spray Drift

Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Authority
Spray drift