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EPA settles case against vegetable farmer for failing to protect field workers from pesticides

Release Date: 6/21/2005
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today settled a complaint against a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based lettuce farmer for allegedly failing to protect its employees working in fields in Olathe, Colo. from potentially harmful pesticidal exposure.

The EPA fined Cactus Produce, Inc. $4,730 for failing to provide required decontamination supplies and pesticide safety information to its employees working in lettuce fields in 2002. The company also failed to ensure that its workers were adequately trained in pesticide safety, and failed to provide information about recent pesticide applications to fields in which they worked.

"Employers of agricultural workers must ensure their employees are provided with information and protections that minimize the risk and potential exposure to pesticides," said Enrique Manzanilla, the EPA's Communities and Ecosystems Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. "Failure to provide these necessary safeguards is considered a serious violation."

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, the worker protection standards aim to reduce the risk of pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. The standards contains requirements for pesticide safety training, notification of pesticide applications, use of protective equipment, restrictions on reentry into fields where pesticides were applied, decontamination supplies, and emergency medical assistance.

The complaint is based upon inspections done by the EPA's Colorado office in September 2002 and the Arizona Department of Agriculture's follow-up inspections in August 2003.

For more information on pesticides, please visit the EPA's Web site at: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/


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