Stories On Pesticide Drift: A Cloud Over Earlimart

Photo of Earlimart road sign.
Earlimart, CA, where a toxic cloud of pesticides drifted over the townspeople in November 1999. (Credit: Earthjustice)
Photo of Esteban Agpalza
Esteban Agpalza was poisoned that day, along with 250 others. (Credit: Earthjustice)
A Cloud Over Earlimart

As told by Esteban Agpalza of Earlimart, CA. In 1999, Esteban was among the 250 people in Earlimart, CA who became violently ill after a cloud of pesticides drifted over the town. Sitting on his front patio, across the street from a fallow field, he recalls the events of that November night ten years earlier.

They were spraying in the potato field. The wind started blowing. It looked like fog, it was about ten feet above. I looked overhead and thought 'what is that smell?' It smelled like a chemical so I told my grandson and granddaughter 'Oh my God, Go inside, go inside!' But I stayed outside for a little bit, then thought 'I can't handle this' and went in the house. That's when I started vomiting.

That night, I vomited all night. In the morning, it was my granddaughter's christening. I couldn't handle it, I was running to the bathroom, sick. I missed the christening. I drank some Pepto Bismol, it helped a little bit. But my eyes were watering, and a headache. Six months later, I was still having headaches.

Before the accident I was healthy. I worked in the fields. I picked, I pruned. But even now, I get headaches, my vision is blurry. I take some Advil for the headaches. Go to the eye doctor for glasses. I'm scared, I heard if you inhale the chemicals, you can get cancer. I am scared.

Next Story: Pesticides on the Playground

Stories on Pesticide Drift

Photo of Genoveva Galvez. The Teen Organizer Genoveva Galvez (Lindsay, CA)

She knows there are pesticides in her body. What she really wants to know is: how does she get rid of them?
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Photo of Domitila Lemus. Pesticides on the Playground Domitila Lemus (Plainview, CA)

"They had no concern for children’s safety or health. All they cared is that the trees would have fruit..."
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Photo of Earlimart road sign. A Cloud Over Earlimart Esteban Agpalza (Earlimart, CA)

"It looked like fog; it was about ten feet above. I looked overhead and thought, 'What is that smell?'..."
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Earthjustice logo. Pesticides in the Air, Kids at Risk

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