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.