Trump’s EPA could allow teenage workers to handle dangerous pesticides

by Doris Cellarius, Sierra Club Grassroots Network, 1/11/18, from Huffington Post. See both sites for links to more info.

If the Environmental Protection Agency follows through with a reform now under consideration, teenage farmworkers and other working minors would once again be allowed to handle dangerous pesticides while on the job.

The EPA is now reevaluating a 2015 rule that tightened safety standards for farmworkers. In particular, the agency is considering changing or scrapping the requirement that anyone working with pesticides in agriculture be at least 18 years old.

Doctors had called for those restrictions to be put in place because pesticides can increase the risk of cancer or impact brain development in children.

The EPA may also tweak or do away with the age requirements of another recent rule, which spells out who can be certified to be an applicator of the chemicals that the EPA classifies as the most toxic. That could make it legal for minors to work with what are known as “restricted-use” pesticides, like arsenic and methyl bromide, in a host of industries beyond just agriculture, such as landscaping and pest control.

Restricted-use pesticides are not sold to the public for general use because of how dangerous they can be to people and the environment.

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What’s the big danger to public health here?

Number of deaths in Chester County from…

Opioid overdose: about 100 a year. There have been 60 in 2015, 97 in 2016, and 150 can be projected for 2017, per Chesco DA Tom Hogan, in Michael Rellahan, “‘Operation Wildfire:’ Dozens busted in heroin-opioid crackdown,” Daily Local News, 6/27/17.

West Nile Virus: 1 in the 16 years since WNV was first recorded in Chester County in 2001.

Number of deaths in Pennsylvania from…

Drug overdoses: pushing toward 5,000 a year. There have been 3,264 in 2015 (n.b. “Opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths”) per CDC and 4,642 in 2016 per USDEA cited in Pennlive).

West Nile Virus: 4 in the last 3 years 1 in 2014 and 1 in 2015 per CDC; 2 in 2016 per CDC)

Opioid deaths in PA are rising dramatically while WNV deaths have fallen over time almost to the vanishing point. Let’s put public resources into drug issues, not spraying for mosquitoes!

EPA: Pesticide Environmental Stewardship

Managed by the US EPA, “The Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) is a voluntary membership program that promotes the adoption of innovative, alternative pest control practices such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). In becoming a PESP member, you join more than 250 nationally-recognized organizations committed to reducing the human health and environmental risks associated with pesticide use.”

From the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program Application Form:

By completing this application for membership in PESP, we affirm our commitment to the following:

We believe that environmental stewardship is an integral part of pest management practices and will continue to work toward pest management practices that reduce the risks to humans and the environment. As part of our voluntary participation in the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program, this organization will develop a Strategic Approach to pesticide risk reduction and implement annual Activities that fall within this Strategic Approach.

We understand that in return, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will seek to foster, fund and promote, through research, education, and other means, the adoption of alternative pest management technologies and practices that enhance pest management and reduce pesticide risk.

The Chester County Health Department is a member of PESP.

Climate Change Makes Me Sick!

Physicians for Social Responsibility, 4/13/16

How does climate change increase Insect-borne diseases?

mosquitoes-postcard Mosquitoes carry infectious pathogens and transmit them to humans via biting. As the Earth warms due to climate change, more regions can potentially support disease-bearing mosquitoes.

The increase in heat and humidity boosts mosquitoes’ reproduction rates, lengthens their breeding season, makes mosquitoes bite more, and speeds the development of the disease-causing agents they carry (bacteria and viruses) to an infectious state….

read more at Physicians for Social Responsibility