The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a grant of $30,000 to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso for the Farmworkers Pesticide Use Protection Project. The project will educate migrant farmworkers and their families on the health effects and safe use of pesticides as they work along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The educational project is part of a collaboration between the EPA and the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health (SWCPEH) at TTUHSC El Paso.
Early exposure to pesticides can affect health later in life, including negative effects to the nervous and endocrine systems in the body. The SWCPEH has partnered with promotores, or community health workers, from Familias Triunfadoras Inc. to educate the local migrant farmworker community. These underserved communities often have poor access to basic necessities and are most in need of preventative and routine health care.
Promotores will be providing pesticide health education to the migrant farm workers and developing curriculum.
Collaboration between our center and the promotores is an integral part of our project. We were very fortunate to connect with a group of promotores who have strong ties to the migrant farmworker community and are able to provide insight on their specific needs."
Stormy Monks, Ph.D., Regional Director, Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health Region 6, Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit
As part of the EPA's Children's Health Policy and Strategic Plan, the agency considers environmental impacts at all stages and addresses health disparities so all children, no matter their ZIP code, race or income, can be protected equally under the law.
"Not only do farmworkers have pesticide health hazards in the field, but they can bring these hazards to high-risk individuals at home, including elderly family members, pregnant spouses and small children," said Diego Garcia, life scientist at the EPA's Land, Chemicals, and Redevelopment Division Pesticide Program. "They need to be educated on basic pesticide safety."
Basic safety measures to avoid a pesticide exposure include:
- Avoiding getting pesticides on your skin and body.
- Wearing protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts, pants and hats to work.
- Washing hands before eating or drinking.
- Washing body and hair thoroughly and putting on clean clothes before entering your home.
- Washing work clothing separately from non-work clothing.
Fewer incidents mean a healthier workforce and fewer lost wages, medical bills and absences from work and school.
"The EPA is excited to continue developing our partnership with TTUHSC El Paso to improve our children's environmental health outcomes," said EPA Region 6 Administrator Earthea Nance, Ph.D. "Understanding and evaluating the impacts of pesticide use is a high priority, and we have so much more to learn in this area. We look forward to seeing the results of the study and congratulate TTUHSC El Paso and the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health on this grant."