October 15, 2009

2 Min Read

The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has developed wallet-sized cards for agricultural fieldworkers with information on who to contact if they become ill or injured from exposure to pesticides, DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam announced.

“We want these cards in the hands of as many fieldworkers as possible so they have quick access to emergency phone numbers if they are exposed to pesticides,” she said. “These cards represent our latest effort to educate fieldworkers and their families about the safe use of pesticides and the importance of reporting illnesses and injuries.”

The card, available in English and Spanish, includes a reminder to call 911 for emergency help and toll-free numbers for the California Poison Control System for medical advice, a toll-free number to reach the appropriate county agricultural commissioner to report the illness or injury and a toll-free number for California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA).

CRLA’s number is listed because some fieldworkers may not feel comfortable contacting government officials due to a language barrier or immigration status. They may also be concerned about retaliation for reporting any illness or injury.

DPR wants field workers to report pesticide-related illnesses and injuries to ensure:

• They receive timely and appropriate medical care.

• County agricultural commissioners investigate as required by law.

• The information is documented in DPR’s pesticide illness database. DPR evaluates the reports and uses the information to improve efforts to protect workers and others from adverse effects of pesticide exposure.

The cards are being distributed at various health fairs, festivals and other events and are available at county agricultural commissioner’s offices and some migrant health clinics.

“We can’t emphasize enough the importance of reporting these illnesses and injuries,” Warmerdam said. “These incidents won’t be investigated unless we know about them.”

Of the 1,479 illnesses and injuries potentially associated with pesticide exposure investigated in California in 2007, the most recent data available, pesticide exposure was a possible contributing factor in 982, or 66 percent, of them.

A PDF image of the Spanish-language version of the card is available at http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pressrls/spanish/emergency_cards_sp.pdf.

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