EPA Environmental Justice Grant to Help Farm Workers Reduce Pesticide Risks

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing a $25,000 grant to the Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas (CATA) to reduce exposure to pesticides for farm workers in southern New Jersey. CATA, a Latino-led nonprofit organization, will educate migrant farm workers throughout the counties of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem, New Jersey about the risks of pesticide exposure and how to protect their health during field work.

““EPA environmental justice grants provide much needed funds to tackle local pollution problems in low income communities," said Judith A. Enck, EPA regional administrator. "Exposure to pesticides can have serious effects on people’s health. The grant to Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas will train migrant farm workers in southern New Jersey about steps they can take to better protect their health on the job.”

Pesticides are intended to harm or kill pests and are toxic by design. They can be very harmful to people’s health depending on the toxicity of the pesticide and the level of exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control, doctors diagnose between 10,000 and 20,000 farm workers with pesticide poisonings each year. Workers can become exposed to toxic levels of pesticides during spills, direct spraying or pesticide drift. In addition, migrant farm workers may not be supplied protective gear needed to protect their health or the equipment they do receive is defective.

Southern New Jersey has a large population of migrant farm workers. For the past twenty years, CATA has managed an environmental program that provides information on pesticide protection, the reduction of harmful chemicals in the workplace and general health and safety training. The EPA funding to CATA will help farm workers implement worker protection standards and identify training needs. Under the project funded by the grant, the group will survey workers and train them using the We Work with Pesticides curriculum developed by the Farm Worker Health and Safety Institute and approved by the EPA.

Environmental justice means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, in the environmental decision-making process. Since 1994, the environmental justice small grants program has provided more than $23 million in funding to community-based nonprofit organizations and local governments working to address environmental justice issues in more than 1,200 communities. The grants further EPA’s commitment to expand the conversation on environmentalism and advance environmental justice in communities across the nation.

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