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- A recent study indicates that people of color and low-income communities are at a higher risk for pesticide exposure.
- How are pesticides an environmental justice issue?
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People of color and low-income communities in the U.S. are at greater risk for exposure to pesticides, a new study has found.
While this is the case for many environmental pollutants, the study published in BMC Public Health Tuesday was the first to take an in-depth look at the differences in pesticide protections and regulations in the U.S.
“Like many other pollutants, pesticides are a major environmental justice issue,” Robert Bullard, director of the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University, said in a press release. “The cost of these chemicals isn’t just paid for at the cash register, it’s also being paid for by communities that have been marginalized for centuries. The Biden administration can, and must, move aggressively to right this long-ignored injustice.”
The study was conducted by Texas Southern University, Spelman College, Farmworker Association of Florida, Farmworker Justice, Advance Carolina, Migrant Clinicians Network, Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides and the Center for Biological Diversity. It found that Black and Mexican people in the U.S. had biomarkers for 12 harmful pesticides in their blood and urine at levels as much as five times higher than white U.S. residents. It also found that people of color in California, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri make up about 38% of the population, but they make up 63 percent of the population living near 31 pesticide-manufacturing plants that violate environmental laws.
One of the major reasons for the disparity in exposure is the fact that farmworkers are disproportionately exposed to pesticides, The Guardian explained. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pesticide laws apply to consumers, but have exceptions for agricultural workers. However, around 90 percent of U.S. pesticide use takes place on the farm, and 83 percent of farmworkers identify as Hispanic.
Read the full article about exposure to pesticides by Olivia Rosane at EcoWatch.