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December 31, 1969Most Farmworkers Speak Spanish, but Pesticide Safety Labels Are Often Only Printed in English

Pesticide labels are more like long technical manuals, sometimes totaling 30-plus pages. The intent of all that information is to minimize the risk of handling the highly toxic chemicals. And there are a lot of risks: Depending on the strength of the pesticide and exposure, farmworkers  who come into contact with pesticides can land in a hospital with headaches, rashes, vomiting, and nausea, not to mention the potential for serious long-term health consequences like cancer. While Spanish is the dominant language for 62 percent of farmworkers in the U.S., pesticide labels are typically only printed in English. “We’ve been fighting for bilingual pesticide labels for 15 or 20 years,” says Jeannie Economos, pesticide safety and environmental health project coordinator with the Farmworker Association of Florida. “It’s very frustrating.”

 

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