EPA rolls out pesticide protections for farm workers

EPA rolls out pesticide protections for farm workers
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Farm workers will be better protected from exposure to harmful pesticides under new rules from the Obama administration.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Labor Department announced the new pesticide standards Monday, which include new age requirements and enhanced training for the nation’s 2 million agricultural workers.

“We will not turn our backs on the people that help feed this nation,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Trump budget slashes EPA funding | International hunting council disbands amid lawsuit | Bill targets single-use plastics Trump budget slashes EPA funding, environmental programs Overnight Energy: Trump credits economic progress to environmental rollbacks | Vote to subpoena Interior delayed by prayer breakfast | Dems hit agency for delaying energy efficiency funds MORE told reporters.

“There is nothing we think that deserves closer scrutiny and attention than the handling of pesticides,” she added.

The new standards will protect agricultural workers who spray pesticides on crops or harvest those crops. They will apply to those who work not only on farms, but also in forests, nurseries and greenhouses, the agencies said.

Among the requirements, children under the age of 18 will be prohibited from working with pesticides.

The Labor Department and EPA will also require annual training for those who work around pesticides to reduce the take-home exposure. Previously, training was only required once every five years.

“We depend on farm workers every day to help put the food we eat on America’s dinner tables — and they deserve fair, equitable working standard with strong health and safety protections,” McCarthy said.

“No one should ever have to risk their lives for their livelihoods, but far too many workers, especially those who work in agriculture, face conditions that challenge their health and safety every day,” added Labor Secretary Thomas PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE.

The new rules will go into effect 14 months after the agencies post in the Federal Register, which they say is expected sometime in the next 60 days.