By: Vashti Kelly, Programs Manager

We know that pesticide drift poses a big problem for farms, agricultural workers, and the environment but, what about our children? If you live or work in rural America or are surrounded by expansive agricultural lands, then you are around pesticide drift – drifting spray and dust particles from pesticide applications. This might be a substantial concern for you and your family. The greatest hazard being posed to children because children are still growing and developing.

Pesticide drift refers to the unintentional dissemination of pesticides and in turn the potential effects of those chemicals, which can lead to environmental, human, animal and property damage.

Factors why pesticides pose greater risk to children:

  • Children’s metabolic rates are more rapid than adults
  • Children’s ability to expel toxins are different compared to adults
  • Children are exposed to greater qualities of pesticides because of their “play and learning” behaviors
  • Children consume more fruits and vegetables relative to their body weight in comparison to adults

Although there are warnings on pesticide labels to protect against spray drift these often don’t protect children or adults to the extent that we would hope or like. And, at the center of it all are farmworkers and their families who live and work amid these poisonous chemicals 24/7.

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Even if parents are taking precautions and their children are not playing in the fields while they’re working, children at daycare and school may still be exposed.

Remember, there are several pathways in which we can be exposed to pesticides and their residues; dermal, ocular, nasal, and oral. Combined with the risk factors for children it creates a real danger to children and serious concerns for parents.

The Pesticide Action Network summarized the dangers of pesticide exposure well; “children exposed to pesticides either in utero or during other critical periods may have lower IQs, birth defects and developmental delays, and face higher risk of autism, ADHD and cancer.” The ugly truth is Children and Pesticides Don’t Mix!

AFOP’s Health & Safety Programs does not have a training specifically designated to the topic of pesticide drift, however, the topic is covered in the Worker Protection Standard, as well as in the LEAF training.  Often, farm workers do not realize the extent of the dangers associated with pesticide exposure beyond working with these toxins in the fields which is why we are committed to providing as much information and training as possible. Knowledge is power and when we know better we do better. Every parent wants to protect their child and we are just a small piece of making that possible.

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