Dozens of farm workers exposed to toxic pesticide Chlorpyrifos.
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Farm workers need you to e-mail the California Department of Pesticide Regulations immediately. More than 75 workers were laboring in the grapes last Saturday, when the adjacent almond orchard was sprayed with the dangerous pesticide Chlorpyrifos. The toxic chemical drifted over workers. Within minutes, workers complained of headaches, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, memory loss and chest pressure.
Grape worker Gloria Sanchez describes the incident:
“We were de-leafing the table grape vineyards when something weird started to smell like gasoline. I got out of the row and I saw a sprayer passing by and drops of pesticide were falling on me. I started throwing up and felt like I would faint.”
Some workers like Gloria were taken directly to the hospital. The rest of the crew was told to go home and take a shower…and then they were called later in the early afternoon that they should go to the hospital. Workers tell us they were afraid to go to the hospital because they couldn’t afford the medical costs or the loss of work.
Needing their wages, these same workers attempted to return to work on Monday, but were still affected by the insecticide exposure. Many of them fell ill again.
We don’t know what the long term effects of this exposure will be on these farm workers–most of whom are women. We do know that Chlorpyrifos is a dangerous class two type pesticide that can affect the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and the respiratory system. It is one of the leading causes of acute pesticide poisoning incidents in the US.
This is the second major pesticide exposure incident in July. On July 10th over a dozen workers were also exposed to Chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) while picking oranges. Farm worker Concepcion Silvestre tells us what happened:
“We started to smell pesticides. Drops of whatever pesticide had been applied to the orange trees the day before were falling on us. We started to have headaches and our fingers started to become numb. We told the forelady what was happening and she told us that we were hung over.” The supervisor told the workers to change fields and continue their work. The workers refused as they felt sick and wanted to go home.
Please e-mail the CA Department of Pesticide Regulations (CDPR) today and tell them to investigate these incidents to the fullest extent of the law. It’s time to ban dangerous pesticides like Chlorpyrifos which put farm workers’ health at risk on a daily basis. Tell the CDPR to do its job and protect farm workers from being poisoned by toxic pesticides.