On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a series of revisions to its existing pesticide regulations in hopes of providing additional protection to agricultural workers in the United States.
Approximately 16% of the 2.4 million agricultural workers represented in the 2012 National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) reported loading, mixing or applying pesticides in the last 12 months. That’s almost 400,000 workers. The effects of ag worker pesticide exposure reportedly generate $10-$15 million in healthcare costs each year.
In the Huffington Post on Monday, Gina McCarthy, U.S. EPA Administrator, and Thomas E. Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor, wrote:
There are serious financial consequences for businesses that don't acknowledge the importance of worker safety. They not only endanger their own workers, they reduce their competitiveness and harm their bottom line. It's time to raise the bar for our agriculture workers in the United States.
The article also included insight from Norma Flores, a woman from a migrant ag worker family, who now works for the East Coast Migrant Health Project. Migrant farm labor supports the approximately $28 billion fruit and vegetable industry in the United States.
At NCFH, we proactively support the work of migrant health centers and the empowerment of farmworker communities in our mission to improve health status. We are determined to eliminate the barriers to health care and increase access for farmworker families to culturally appropriate quality health care.
By Lindsey Bachman
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The National Center for Farmworker Health
Improving health care access for one of America's most vulnerable populations