Organophosphates, Friend and Foe: The Promise of Medical Monitoring for Farm Workers and Their Families
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Millions of farm workers nation-wide who load, mix and/or apply pesticides are exposed to incredible amounts of pesticides on a daily basis. Various inefficiencies and inconsistencies in the regulatory system - including insufficient illness reporting data systems, lack of regulatory compliance and enforcement, and inadequate data and information on the chronic effects of exposure and overexposure to various pesticides - increase the likelihood that these workers will continue to be exposed to dangerous amounts of pesticides. This Article assesses the existing mechanisms designed to protect farm workers from occupational exposure to pesticides and identifies and analyzes some of the shortcomings of the regulatory system. It focuses on the class of pesticides known as organophosphates and examines the impact that such pesticides can have on farm workers as well as on their families. It then evaluates the State of Washington’s medical monitoring rule, and recommends implementation of a federal medical monitoring program as a means of protecting all American farm workers from the dangers of pesticide overexposure.