Immigrants Agriculture, forestry and fishing Workplace exposures

EPA program targets pesticide drift

Washington – A new voluntary program from the Environmental Protection Agency aims to protect agricultural workers from pesticide drift.

EPA’s Drift Reduction Technology program encourages manufacturers to test pesticide spray equipment such as nozzles, shields and chemicals for drift reduction potential. EPA also launched a program that rates products and technologies (from one to four stars) on how they reduce potential drift.

Exposure to pesticides is an “unavoidable reality” that poses health risks for many farmworkers, according to advocacy group Farmworker Justice. The group issued a report in 2013 identifying potential health consequences such as muscle cramps, runny nose, itching, rashes, confusion and weakness among farmworkers, as well as birth defects, developmental delays and cancer among their children.

According to EPA, 1 percent to 10 percent of pesticide spray used in agriculture ends up drifting from its intended crop.