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article imageEPA OK's nasty pesticide - Now 12 farmworkers have been poisoned

By Karen Graham     May 16, 2017 in Health
Bakersfield - Over 50 farmworkers in Bakersfield, California were exposed to a pesticide drift from a nearby field earlier this month. At least 12 of the farmworkers became ill, with one person passing out, requiring hospitalization.
The 50 agricultural workers exposed to the pesticide were harvesting cabbage at a local farm in Kern County, reports the television news station Kern Golden Empire. Some workers began complaining of a "pesticide odor."
Emergency medical services were called, and by the time they arrived, 12 of the workers weren't showing any symptoms. The crew was sent home after everyone was decontaminated. Of the 12 workers seriously ill, only one required hospitalization.
READ MORE: Police officer accidentally overdoses after drug arrest in Ohio
The poisoning was taken seriously by California authorities. Michelle Corson, the public relations officer at Kern County Public Health, made an announcement on the local television station, saying: "Anybody that was exposed, that was here today, we encourage them to seek medical attention immediately. Don't wait. Particularly if you're suffering from any symptoms. Whether it's nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately,"
About 50 workers were exposed to the deadly pesticide while harvesting cabbage in  Bakersfield.
About 50 workers were exposed to the deadly pesticide while harvesting cabbage in Bakersfield.
Ksenija Putilin
The pesticide allegedly responsible for the mass poisoning has been tentatively identified as chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate-based chemical found in Vulcan, manufactured by Dow AgroSciences, a division of Dow Chemical. A spokesperson for the Kern County Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards said tests pinpointing the chemical responsible are pending.
“I’m not pointing fingers or saying it was done incorrectly. It was just an unfortunate thing the way it was drifted,” Efron Zavalza, Supervisor and Food Safety Specialist at Dan Andrews Farms where the incident occurred, was quoted as saying by Think Progress. “The wind came and pushed everything east and you know we were caught in the path.”
EPA's Scott Pruitt overturns ban
According to Digital Journal, Lawyers for DOW and two other pesticide manufacturers of organophosphates sent letters to heads of three federal agencies on April 13, asking them to "set aside" the results of studies on by government scientists that they say are "fundamentally flawed."
Dow CEO Andrew Liveris is a good friend of Trump and a financial supporter of the president's campaign. But he also has business reasons for wanting to make the EPA's study results disappear. If the ban were to go through, it would affect Dow's chlorpyrifos pesticide, Vulcan.
Chlorpyrifos was slated to be banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration, but in March that ban was canceled. EPA head, Scott Pruitt said there just wasn't enough "solid evidence" to uphold the ban. It may be questionable to assume the American public is in safe hands as long as deadly chemicals like chlorpyrifos are allowed in agriculture.
More about Pesticide, chlorpyrifos, farmworkers, California, dow agrosciences
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