EPA considering pesticide protections for farmworkers

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A 23-year-old law, the Agriculture Worker Protection Standard (WPS), is being updated to enhance protections for people exposed to toxic agricultural pesticides; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also proposing a ban on the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos for use in agricultural fields.

On MidPoint we talked about pesticides and these protections that could benefit farmworkers with guest Lisa Garcia. She’s Vice President of Litigation for Health at EarthJustice and used to be senior adviser to the administrator for Environmental Justice at the EPA.

Listen to the full show here:

The updated WPS includes provisions for personal protective equipment; routine washing and emergency decontamination. Children under 18 are now banned from handling pesticides in fields. Farmworkers will have the same whistleblower protections as other workers from the Department of Labor. There will be annual training as well as information available on pesticides. But Garcia says it is still missing certain safety measures.

In addition, the EPA is proposing a ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos for use in agricultural fields. Fifteen years ago it was banned for residential and urban use. It had been used in products like rugs and pet flea collars. The public comment period closes Tuesday. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate pesticide which can cause brain damage in kids. It’s also known by the product names Dursban or Lorsban. The pesticide industry is trying to weaken the ban.

Earthjustice had to bring two court cases against the EPA to spur the protections. In it’s decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals called the EPA’s delay egregious. EPA is now reviewing all organophosphate pesticides.