Pesticide Exposure

Migrant Legal Aid connects farmworkers with medical and financial resources for injuries sustained on the job. Migrant Legal Aid helps injured workers review and negotiate medical bills, educates families about their Medicaid eligibility, acquires guardianship for minors in need of medical attention, assists to report exposures, and works with authorities to reduce the number of incidents.

Pesticide Exposure Harms Migrant Workers and Our Community

Working with crops endangers migrant workers and their children because of the daily exposure to pesticides. Migrant parents working with pesticides often contaminate their clothes, shoes, and hats, which can easily reach their children.

In fact, 88% of children whose parents work with pesticides tested positive for pesticide metabolites in their system. Furthermore, many migrant children themselves work in fields that have been freshly sprayed with pesticides. Some even report that they work in the field at the same time as it is being sprayed.

Children are particularly at risk to be harmed by pesticides. When interviewed about their symptoms from pesticide exposure, they reported headaches, nausea, fever, dizziness, rashes, and diarrhea. Long-term, pesticide exposure causes cancer, brain damage and sterility. Severe cases can lead to convulsions, coma, or death.

Because of the prevalence and severity of the dangers of pesticides, Migrant Legal Aid offers services that protect the health of farmworkers from harmful exposure. We advocate for the rights of families to work in fields where field sanitation standards are upheld. Pesticides must be properly applied and adequately dried before work begins.

Our pesticide program educates migrant farmworkers about safety with pesticide application and techniques to limit exposure and harm. Common issues include being sprayed with pesticides while working, inadequate respirators, inadequate pesticide training, and inadequate signage on recently sprayed fields.

MLA Settles Pesticide Case

In an attempt to spray an adjacent field, a crop duster pilot sprayed a group of blueberry pickers in southwest Michigan, exposing them to various harmful pesticides and fungicides. Migrant Legal Aid filed on behalf of four workers for negligence and settled the case in 2018.
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