• June 20th, 2024
  • Thursday, 08:12:28 AM

EPA Delays Protections for Workers

Photo: Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice A farmworker harvests strawberries in Salinas, California.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on May 11th, it was delaying for a year the implementation of the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule, which included new provisions to protect children, farmworkers and pesticide applicators from exposure to pesticides.

The EPA originally published the revised CPA rule on January 4 with an effective date of March 6. The new CPA ensures that applicators of the most toxic pesticides get adequate training. It establishes a minimum age of 18 for pesticide applicators; requires that applicators be able to read and write; increases the frequency of applicator safety training to every year; and improves the quality of information that workers receive about the pesticides that they apply in agricultural, commercial and residential settings.

“We are outraged that EPA has ordered a lengthy suspension of a rule that would provide life-saving information and training for the workers who handle the most toxic pesticides in the country,” said Eve C. Gartner, Earthjustice attorney. “This is an abuse of the legal process that will jeopardize the health and safety of workers and families.”

When the EPA adopted the rule, it pointed to multiple tragic incidents where children died or were seriously injured when poorly trained applicators misused highly toxic pesticides. Furthermore, one of the key provisions of the rule sets a minimum age for pesticide applicators. This delay means minors can continue to handle some of the most toxic pesticides, putting themselves and others at risk.

“When workers aren’t trained about the proper handling of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) tragedies occur,” Gartner said. “To make matters worse, EPA violated the legal requirement that it provide a meaningful opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed suspension of the effective date before the delay is finalized.”

This is the third time that the federal government delays the rule in just four months. EPA is offering the public a mere 4 days to comment on this health-threatening delay.

“A 12-month delay in the implementation of the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule puts children, workers and families—in farms and residential settings—in harms’ way and at risk of pesticide misuse, injury, illness and death,” said Andrea Delgado, senior legislative representative for Earthjustice.