Once a bass fisherman’s heaven, Lake Apopka needed millions of government cleanup dollars to undo the decades of pesticide runoff that turned it into a toxic brew of chemicals. Our government spent additional millions studying the health effects of the local wildlife during the cleanup. However, the people who worked those fields were all but ignored, and are suffering the effects forty years later.
Protecting People From Pesticides
Our Food, Toxic Fields.
Farmworkers represent the backbone of our agricultural economy and their work is some of the most physically demanding labor in any economic sector. They are also among the least protected from hazards on the job and have one of the highest rates of chemical exposures among all U.S. workers. Off the job, they often live in or near treated fields, where harmful pesticides can drift into their homes.
Among farmworkers, 10,000–20,000 pesticide poisonings occur every year. Beyond the acute poisonings, there are long-term, chronic health effects such as cancer, Parkinsons’ Disease, asthma, birth defects and neurological harms, including developmental delays and learning disabilities.
Children of farmworkers are particularly at risk. Pesticides cling to workers' skin and clothing long after they return home, putting their children at risk.
Protections Must Be Strengthened.
A healthy, safe, and fair food system would protect us all and safeguard the health and economic needs of farmworkers, farmers, rural communities and consumers. Shifting away from reliance on hazardous pesticides is a key step toward this goal. But as long as harmful pesticides are in use, farmworkers need better protections in the field.
Let’s Get It Right.
After more than a decade of broken promises and delays, EPA is now poised to strengthen the rules protecting farmworkers—but the agency needs to do so now and it needs to get it right. We’re working in Congress, at the EPA and in the White House to ensure the strongest protections are put in place. But we can’t do it alone. Join us by taking action today.
Pounds of pesticides applied to crops annually in the U.S., resulting in 10,000–20,000 pesticide poisonings among farmworkers each year.