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Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals

A sign warning of the presence of asbestos.

Every day, just in the course of normal activities, we are exposed to an unbelievable range of toxic chemicals that we may not know about. Of the 80,000 plus chemicals that have been approved to be on the market in the United States, approximately 24,000 are “secret”. Literally, we don’t know what they are.

A child walks through a field.

Farmworkers share stories from the frontlines, in this fourth and final installment of a weekly series:

Part 4: Calling on the EPA to get it right

"I was raised on a farm beginning in the post war years. While our crop used relatively small amounts of herbicides and pesticides, we used enough to become familiar with their hazards.

Ahi tuna tends to have high levels of mercury.

When browsing your local seafood counter, there’s a good chance you don’t consider how toxic the tuna or swordfish may be. 

For most people, mercury exposure from eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Yet, you may be unknowingly exposing your family to harmful mercury levels, depending on the type of fish you feed them, the serving size and how often your family consumes seafood.

A cropduster sprays agricultural fields.

Farmworkers share stories from the frontlines, in this third installment of a weekly series:

Part 3: Living near toxic fields

"As a child, my family worked in the fields bordering the Denver area. Spraying with pesticides was done while we were working or the evening prior. On weekends, our father joined us and the earnings were used to stock up for the winter. Many of our neighbors, relatives and friends also worked in the fields until school started in the fall.

A bag made by the child of a farmworker. The bag, embroidered with the words "Don't kill my family please," is adorned with skulls. It was presented to Sen. Charles Shumer's office by farmworkers and advocates, who had traveled to Washington, D.C. in July

Farmworkers share stories from the frontlines, in this second installment of a weekly series:

Part 2: When going organic isn’t possible

"I am a farm worker and only use organic methods. It is the only way to protect all.

"When I first heard about the illnesses that our farmworkers were having, I began to only buy organic produce. It was more expensive, but it was doable. Then when we began to farm, we knew the way we needed to proceed.

bees on honeycomb

Why do we care about honeybees? Just browse the produce section of your local Trader Joe's or the football-field-long Berkeley Bowl, the popular Bay Area grocery store, to get a quick answer. It's estimated that one in every three bites of food we eat depends on honeybees for pollination, and they happen to be the healthiest bites, too. Without honeybees, the apples, avocados, almonds, blueberries, strawberries, melons and many other nutritious, California-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables we eat every day wouldn't exist.

A farmworker picks strawberries in Wayne County, NY.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants your feedback as it updates rules meant to protect children and adult agricultural workers from pesticides.

In this first installment of a weekly series, farmworkers share stories from the frontlines, illustrating why we need an even stronger standard than EPA proposes. Join them in taking action, and share your story below.

Harvested snap beans.

This week marks the official end to the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of genitalia-altering pesticide residues on snap beans. Numerous published studies by an EPA scientist found that rats fed vinclozolin in utero had feminized genitalia with malformations like vaginal pouches, undescended testicles, and malformed penises. Yet the EPA ban did not happen on its own.

A small private plane tied down next to the runway at a regional airport.

(The Right to Know Reader is a series of blog posts to educate families on the toxic chemicals in our daily lives. Earthjustice is working to enact stronger protections from these toxic chemicals for our families, communities and the environment because everyone has a right to know the truth about harmful toxins.)

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