Americans rarely consider the reality of farmworkers when we purchase food. Working outside, often in extreme heat for long hours, sometimes without access to shade, water, or restrooms—farmworkers labor in difficult, even dangerous conditions.
Farmworkers routinely come in contact with pesticides and other poisonous agricultural chemicals. In California alone, there are hundreds farmworkers poisoned by pesticides reported each year. Nationaly, there is no system to track farmworkers poisoned by pesticides—but the number is thought to be in the tens of thousands.
In addition to direct poisonings, farmworkers face elevated risks of cancer, birth defects, infertility, and neurological disorders as a result of exposure to hazardous pesticides. Farmworkers also “take home” pesticides on their clothing, footwear and skin, exposing their families to these hazardous chemicals and their associated risk of causing sickness and other health impacts.
Though pesticides are regulated differently than most other industrial chemicals, the impacts of these toxics on our bodies can be severe. On top of pesticide exposures, farmworkers are also exposed to many of the same toxic chemicals as the rest of us: in household products, in the food we eat, and pollution from chemical plants. Better policies and corporate practices to protect people from pesticides are essential to ensure a healthier and more just future.
Coming Clean is working to make this healthier and more just future a reality. We're calling for fairness and justice for our nation's most vulnerable workers. Our Farmworker Health and Justice Team is comprised of dozens of pesticide and farmworker justice organizations—ranging in scope from local grassroots groups to national advocacy organizations. The team is campaigning for better working conditions, improved safety precautions, and, ultimately, better health for farmworkers. We're working to reduce toxic agrichemical exposures, empower farmworkers to speak and advocate for themselves, and demanding policy reforms to address the health and wellbeing of the most under-represented among us.
Farmworkers working in the fields of central Florida.
For more information on Coming Clean’s Farmworker Health & Justice Team campaigns, see ProtectFarmworkers.org.