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Agriculture, forestry and fishing | Workplace exposures

Pesticide exposure an ‘unavoidable reality’ for farmworkers: report

July 30, 2013

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Washington – Farmworkers are inadequately protected from pesticide exposure, according to a new report from advocacy group Farmworker Justice.

Exposed and Ignored: How Pesticides are Endangering Our Nation’s Farmworkers draws on research and anecdotes to convey the danger to farmworkers.

Calling pesticide exposure an “unavoidable reality” for farmworkers, the report states that they face exposure through direct spray, aerial drift and residue on crops. They also often live near pesticide-treated areas, meaning they could be exposed off the job.

Potential health consequences include muscle cramps, runny nose, itching, rashes, confusion and weakness among farmworkers, as well as birth defects, developmental delays and cancer in their children, according to the report.

To reduce pesticide exposure, the report recommends revising the Environmental Protection Agency’s Worker Protection Standard to require more frequent pesticide safety training, offering Spanish translations of pesticide labels and providing more funding for studies on health effects related to pesticide exposure.