Protect rural kids from pesticide drift

girl on FarmChildren in farming communities are on the front lines everyday because they live, play and learn near agricultural fields. Pesticides applied to these fields don’t stay put -- they drift, vaporize, land in homes and on schoolyards – and current regulations don’t account for this on-the-ground reality.

If we can get EPA to act right now on three rule changes under consideration this week and next, thousands of kids will be protected.

Sign the petition below and demand three practical changes: stronger buffer zones, better drift labeling, and updated risk assessments.



Dear Administrator Jackson,

Children only get one chance to grow up healthy, and they deserve to live in a safe environment, free of chemicals that derail their development. We’re writing to urge the EPA to act on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect millions of children from pesticide exposure.

Across the country, kids in farming communities face regular exposure to pesticide drift simply because they happen to live, play or go to school near agricultural fields. This is a problem that affects farmworker children first and worst – and is compounded by their disproportionate poverty and limited access to healthcare. This is a clear environmental justice tragedy with immeasurable national consequences. You can stop it today.

Right now EPA is considering several actions that address rural children’s exposure to pesticide drift:

>> Buffer zones. The EPA has before it a petition* that asks it to immediately prohibit the use of neurotoxic insecticides around schools, homes, and other places were children are likely to be. EPA should implement this common sense public health measure without delay.

>> Labeling. The Agency is also considering changing how pesticide drift is regulated. This is an excellent opportunity for the Agency to enact real protections for children in rural areas. Pesticide labels should state clearly that pesticides must not move away from where they are used either during or after application, and that applicators and manufactures will be liable should drift occur.

>> Risk assessment. EPA also recently proposed improvements to how it assesses pesticide risks to farmworkers and their children. These improvements should be adopted, but by themselves they are not enough. They neglect inhalation and dermal exposure and the combined effects of multiple pesticides. This should be corrected.

EPA’s current approach fails to account adequately for the on-the-ground realities of rural—and especially farmworker—kids’ lives. Taken together, these measures would go a long way towards closing this gap.

We urge you to take swift and decisive action: Implement the requested buffer zones, strengthen drift language on pesticide labels, and update risk assessments to more adequately address the realities of pesticide drift exposure in farming communities.

On behalf of farmworker and rural kids across the country, we thank you for your serious consideration.

* “Pesticides in the Air – Kids at Risk: Petition to EPA to Children From Pesticide Drift.” Submitted on October 13, 2009 by Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice on behalf of United Farmworkers et al.
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