The Farmworker Association of Florida has joined national environmental and heath advocacy groups in a lawsuit against the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) seeking to prevent worker injury by reversing the Trump administration’s delay in enforcing a rule to protect workers from dangerous pesticides.
The Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule requires safeguards for agricultural workers who handle “restricted use pesticides.”
The rule was to go into effect in March. According to the EPA, the chemicals involved have the “potential to cause unreasonable adverse effects to the environment and injury to applicators or bystanders without added restrictions.”
The pesticides include chemicals linked to cancer, like Atrazine.
New Rule Would Help Prevent Worker Injury
The new rules would require workers applying pesticides to be over 18 and be able to read and write. They would have to receive training to protect themselves and bystanders from chemicals sprayed in fields. Workers would also have to retrain in safety precautions every five years.
Yesica Ramirez of the Farmworker Association of Florida suspects that birth defects of her third child are due to the fact that she was handling pesticides while pregnant. She says she used the chemicals while working at a local nursery without getting proper training or protection.
Activist groups Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Farmworker Association of Florida, United Farm Workers, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and Pesticide Action Network North America.
Lawsuits for damages from pesticide injury are in a group called Toxic Torts.