farm workers

The EPA has proposed changes to pesticide and herbicide rules that could give farm workers and people living near farms some added protection from the harmful chemicals.

According to Reuters, “EPA is proposing revisions to the agency’s 22-year-old ‘Worker Protection Standard’ that EPA officials say will help protect approximately 2 million U.S. farm workers and their families from exposure to pesticides used to protect crops from weeds, insects, and disease.”

The proposed changes would require training in pesticide protection annually instead of the current requirement of once every five years. “It would expand mandatory posting of signage warning people from entering fields newly treated with pesticides,” Reuters reports, and “prohibit children under 16 from handling pesticides unless they are part of a family farm.” The new regulations would also set a 25 to 100 foot “no-entry” buffer zone around areas treated with pesticides to help reduce exposure and overspraying.

“Today marks an important milestone for the farm workers who plant, tend, and harvest the food that we put on our tables each day,” Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, said in a statement.

The EPA, the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have been “overseeing an ‘Agricultural Health Study’ of nearly 90,000 people in Iowa and North Carolina tracking the impact of factors including pesticide use,” reports Reuters. “The studies have linked a series of health problems to pesticide use, including various cancers and Parkinson’s disease.”

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