As I write, officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are wading through the tens of thousands of letters Earthjustice supporters and their counterparts at MomsRising, Pesticide Action Network and United Farmworkers sent asking the agency to protect rural kids from pesticides.
These 42,000 people—along with 51 groups in 18 states—are publicly supporting our petition for safety standards to protect children who grow up near farms from the harmful effects of pesticide ‘drift’—the toxic spray or vapor that travels from treated fields—and for immediate no-spray buffer zones around homes, schools, parks and daycare centers for the most dangerous and drift-prone pesticides.
As EPA officials complete their tally, I hope they’re paying particular attention to the personal stories people shared in their letters. People like Cynthia Piper, of Lakewood, OH, who after seeing children exposed to pesticides suffer from deformities, fought for a right-to-know pesticide spray ordinance in her town. Or JeanAnn Hurst of Chowchilla, CA, whose son was exposed to the nerve-gas pesticide chlorpyrifos while on school grounds. You can find Cynthia and JeanAnn’s stories on our interactive map. And if you’ve had a close encounter with pesticides yourself, please consider submitting your story as well.
Whether you have a firsthand pesticide story or not, it’s heartening to see the tens of thousands of people who came together in support of our country’s rural kids. I’m sure more than a few of you can count yourselves among the 42,000 who took the time to contact EPA—so thank you!
Thanks also to the bloggers at The African American Environmentalist Association, The Teacher, Look Back: Labor and the Moving Image, Environmental Booty, and Journey Home who helped get the word out by encouraging their followers to join the campaign.
This show of broad public support helps the cause and may be the key to gaining protections for rural kids in time for the next growing season.