Pesticide labels in Spanish just make sense
Farmworkers perform some of the most demanding and dangerous work there is, and they are also among the least protected.
Explicitly exempt from most U.S. labor law protections, farmworkers are 39 times more likely to face pesticide poisoning than workers in all other industries combined. And yet pesticide labels are not printed in Spanish – the language spoken and read by an overwhelming majority of U.S. farmworkers. This doesn't make sense.
More than a year ago PAN submitted a joint petition calling for the Spanish language labels. EPA finally responded, and is now accepting public comments until June 28. Please join us in calling on EPA to require Spanish language pesticide labels.
Pesticide labels should be available in both English and Spanish.
U.S. farmworkers are overwhelmingly foreign born and Spanish speaking, and many cannot read English. It is essential that farmworkers handling pesticides have access to basic safety information in a language they can understand.
Pesticide labels communicate critical information about the health hazards of exposure to pesticides, directions for safer use (including use of personal protective equipment), and first aid actions to take in the event of an accidental exposure. In a Washington State study of pesticide handlers, only 29% reported being able to read in English but nearly all of the participants were able to read in Spanish to at least some degree.
Pesticide manufacturers already translate many of their labels into Spanish and other languages in order to sell them internationally. In Puerto Rico Restricted Use Pesticides carry Spanish labels, and for nearly a decade Canada has required bilingual labeling.
While Spanish-language labels will not eliminate the problem of pesticide exposure among farmworkers, it will certainly help reduce the frequency and extent of negative health impacts. We strongly urge the EPA to require pesticide manufacturers to translate labels into Spanish.