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EPA Moves To Gut Agricultural Worker Protection Standards

Change will put children and adult farmworkers’ health at risk
Maria Aguilera, a farmworker for 24 years, has learned to protect herself from toxic chemicals applied to the fields.

Maria Aguilera, a farmworker for 24 years, has learned to protect herself from toxic chemicals applied to the fields.

Dave Getzschman for Earthjustice
December 14, 2017
Washington, D.C. —

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will revise crucial protections for more than two million farmworkers and pesticide applicators by the federal Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) and the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule

The WPS establishes a minimum age of 18 for workers who mix, load, and apply pesticides; increases the frequency of worker safety training from once every five years to every year; improves the content and quality of worker safety trainings; and provides anti-retaliation protections and the right of a farmworker to request pesticide-application information via a designated representative.

The EPA also announced the reconsideration of the minimum age requirements established by the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule, which sets training and certification requirements for Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs), the most toxic chemicals in the market. There are roughly half-a-million child farm workers in the United States. 

The following statement is from Andrea Delgado, Earthjustice legislative director, Healthy Communities:

“Nearly two decades ago, EPA recognized that the outdated Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, or WPS, failed to protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure and poisoning. After hearing from the children, women, and men that grow and harvest our food, EPA revised the WPS to provide farmworkers with basic federal protections that workers in other industrial sectors already enjoy. The Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule affects pesticide applications in agricultural, commercial and residential settings, which affects us all.  

“The workers who are most exposed to and apply a range of toxic pesticides deserve the strongest protections. Gutting the basic safeguards provided by these two rules will deny farmworkers the right to access pesticide information via a farmworker representative and put children at risk of pesticide misuse, injury, illness, and death.  Whether it's in Congress or in the courtroom, we'll defend these crucial protections every step of the way.”   

Read the press release in Spanish

Contacts

Andrea Delgado, Earthjustice legislative director, Healthy Communities, (202) 230-6592

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