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Take on Toxics

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.

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.

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.

Packages of d-CON on store shelves.

Some of the gravest poisoning threats to children, pets and wildlife will disappear because of agreements reached this month by Earthjustice and its allies.

The 12 most-dangerous d-CON rodenticides will soon be gone from retail shelves. After years of pressure from conservation, public-health and animal-rights groups, d-CON’s manufacturer agreed to stop producing its super-toxic rat poisons and pull the products from store shelves by early next year. This should greatly reduce unintentional poisonings of children, pets and wildlife.

Blueberries.

Finally. Yesterday—Sept. 30—was the last day that the highly toxic pesticide AZM could be used in the United States. This pesticide, originally developed as a nerve gas, has been poisoning people, particularly farmworkers, and insects for decades.

AZM disrupts the nervous system and causes a range of temporarily debilitating responses—splitting headache, nausea, vomiting, uncontrollable sweats, blurry vision, dizziness, unconsciousness—and even such grave long-term effects as paralysis, and death.