On May 5, more than 50 farmworkers outside of Bakersfield, California, were exposed to a highly toxic pesticide that apparently drifted from a nearby field—at a high enough level that “twelve people reported symptoms of vomiting [and] nausea and one person fainted,” reports the television news station Kern Golden Empire. “An additional twelve workers did not show signs of any symptoms,” the station reported. “However more than half of the farm workers left before medical aide arrived.”
Public health authorities took the poisoning quite seriously. “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, diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately,” Michelle Corson, public relations officer at Kern County Public Health, said in an announcement to the TV station.
According to the news report, the poisoning was caused by a chemical called chlorpyrifos.
The pesticide attacks kids’ minds, giving them reduced IQ, memory loss and attention deficit disorder (You can read the major studies here, here, and here). Also it sickens workers, causing tremors and vomiting.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center, exposure to the chemical through inhalation can cause initial symptoms like “tearing of the eyes, runny nose, increased saliva and sweat production, nausea, dizziness and headache,” followed by possible “muscle twitching, weakness or tremors, lack of coordination, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and pupil constriction with blurred or darkened vision.”
Last year the Environmental Protection Agency intended to instate a ban on the toxic pesticide. However, in March, the Trump Administration abruptly changed its stance on chlorpyrifos, greenlighting it instead of banning it.
Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman is in court fighting the decision.
“It is absolutely outrageous. The EPA has made findings for two and a half years, that this pesticide is unsafe, particularly unsafe for children,” said Goldman.
It was banned from residential use 17 years ago.
So why is it still on our food?
The parent company, Dow Chemical, has cultivated a cozy relationship with the Trump administration. And as the Center for Public Integrity notes, the company delivered $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee. Dow Chemical Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris attended a postelection Trump rally. Trump named Liveris chair of the American Manufacturing Council, vowing the chemical exec would “find ways to bring industry back to America.”
Drain the swamp? Think again…