Worker’s Illness Shines Light on Pesticide Use

March 11th, 2004

To the Editor,

In most cases, employers and landlords have no duty to warn you of the impending use of dangerous airborne pesticides. While the plight of agricultural workers exemplifies this horror, most of us are at risk from the same products – some of which have been banned from production yet are allowed to be used around our homes, offices and schools until the existing stocks are depleted! The green light has even been given for the testing of these substances upon humans. Yes, there are people foolish enough to take a fee for swallowing poisons incompatible with our biochemistry, all for the sake of industries which cling to the unsafe technologies of a profitable past.

I lost my health and career as a speech pathologist and school administrator to pesticides used in a school setting. It happened just one year before New York passed a law mandating interested parties must be informed of pesticide use prior to applications in schools. The Congressional Agriculture Committee has thus far succeeded in keeping similar legislation from becoming effective nation wide, permitting many children and teachers to continue suffering toxic effects of chemicals. My own brain injury, including a 24 point loss in IQ scores, exemplifies the price paid by the more vulnerable among us in urban settings from agricultural poisons.

Consumers need to take control of an industry bent upon wringing profits at any cost from an increasingly ill society.

— Advise your grocer that you wish to ensure your food purchases are not stored in areas where pesticide contamination is likely from spray applications. Buy organic whenever possible. Refrain from purchasing plants and flowers from sources using pesticides.

— Demand information concerning the use of pesticides in your own residence, school and place of business for the past year. You are legally entitled to information about past applications. Then compare dates and products used with your health history to discover if you appear vulnerable to the many adverse health effects listed on the product labels.

— Interview pesticide companies that are knowledgable in modern, nontoxic methods of pest control so you know who to call when pests become problematic.

Barbara Rubin

Categories: Miami Herald

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