Pesticide Protection for Farmworkers

Pesticide exposure can pose serious short- and long-term health risks to children and adults. Children are particularly vulnerable to the dangerous effects of pesticide exposure — children's bodies are still developing; they consume more water and food; and they breathe more air, pound for pound, than adults.

Case Overview

Every year, approximately 20,000 agricultural workers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — or as many as 300,000, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office — suffer pesticide poisoning.

The immediate aftermath of acute pesticide poisoning can result in rashes, vomiting, and even death. In the long-term, pesticide exposure has been associated with increased risk of cancers, infertility, neurological disorders, and respiratory conditions.

Earthjustice is proud to have worked alongside worker advocate and justice organizations for years to strengthen and defend two key federal safeguards — the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard and Certified Pesticide Applicator Rule.

In a series of court actions, Earthjustice has fought alongside our clients and partners for stronger protections and to ban the most dangerous pesticides still in use in agriculture today.

Earthjustice fights for a healthy, safe, and fair food system that safeguards 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. For as long as harmful pesticides are in use, we will work for stronger environmental health regulations for all people.

A farmworker harvests strawberries in Salinas, California.
A farmworker harvests strawberries in Salinas, California. 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. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

Case Updates

December 29, 2020 document

Rural & Migrant Ministry et al v EPA – TRO Decision

Plaintiffs move for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) and a preliminary injunction enjoining a regulation of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), scheduled to be implemented on December 29, 2020, from going into effect. Plaintiffs also move for a stay pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 705. For the following reasons, the TRO is granted and the Court will stay the effective date of the challenged rule, until January 12, 2021, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 705, pending a hearing on the...

December 21, 2020 Press Release

Groups Challenge EPA’s move to gut pesticide spraying safeguards

Two million farmworkers are now more vulnerable to pesticide poisoning

December 18, 2020 document

Proposed Order to Show Cause for Emergency Relief – AEZ Challenge

Rural & Migrant Ministry, Inc. et al v US EPA