“We depend on farm workers every day… they deserve fair, equitable working standards with strong health and safety protections.”
(Reuters) – An estimated 2 million U.S. farm workers, children and others who work or live near farm fields will have more protection from hazardous pesticides under changes unveiled Monday by federal officials.
The changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard should reduce the risk of injury and illnesses from contact with pesticides on farms and in forests, nurseries and greenhouses, according to officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Labor.
“We depend on farm workers every day… they deserve fair, equitable working standards with strong health and safety protections,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement.
Each year, between 1,800 and 3,000 occupational incidents involving pesticide exposure are reported from the farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses covered by the Worker Protection Standard, the EPA said. That range is thought to be lower than the actual number of incidents that occur, the agency said.
The EPA said it is additionally concerned about low level, repeated exposure to pesticides that may contribute to chronic illness as well.