In the name of making safety regulations easier to implement, the EPA proposed on Thursday to reduce the size of buffer zones intended to protect people from exposure to pesticides during their application on the farm. Environmental and farmworker groups said the proposal would increase the risk of pesticides being sprayed on or drifting onto workers, neighbors, and passersby.
Around 1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to U.S. crops annually, said Harvest Public Media on Monday, in an investigation that found uneven tracking in the Midwest of incidents when farmworkers are exposed to the crop chemicals.
Farmworkers face the greatest risk of adverse health effects from exposure to pesticides, says a report released today by the nonprofit Organic Center, which studies the environmental and health effects of organic food and farming.
Hundreds of schools in the Midwest "nestle against fields of corn and soybeans that are routinely sprayed with pesticides that could drift onto school grounds," but states "do not require any kind of buffer zones and seldom require any notification that pesticides are about to be sprayed," says the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. Nine states in other parts of the country, with California the most prominent, have laws that mandate buffer zones.
A UC-Santa Barbara study of 500,000 birth records in the San Joaquin Valley from 1977-2011 found that high exposure to pesticides as a result of living near farm fields appeared to increase the risk for women to give birth to a baby with “abnormalities” by 9 percent, said the Independent. The …