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EPA files complaint against vegetable farmer for failing to protect field workers from pesticides

Release Date: 9/28/2004
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, Press Office, (415) 947-4248

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today filed a complaint against a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based lettuce farmer for allegedly failing to provide worker protection from potentially harmful pesticidal exposure for its employees working in fields in Olathe, Colo.

The EPA is seeking penalties up to $9,460 from Cactus Produce, Inc. for failing to provide required decontamination supplies and pesticide safety information to its employees working in lettuce fields in 2002. The complaint also alleges that the company failed to ensure that its workers were adequately trained in pesticide safety, and failed to notify them about recent pesticide applications in the fields they worked in.

"Employers of agricultural workers must ensure their employees are provided with information and protections that minimize the risk and potential exposure to pesticides," said Enrique Manzanilla, the EPA's Cross Media Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. "Failure to provide these necessary safeguards is considered a serious violation."

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, the worker protection standards aim to reduce the risk of pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. The standards contains requirements for pesticide safety training, notification of pesticide applications, use of protective equipment, restricting reentry into fields where pesticides were applied, decontamination supplies, and emergency medical assistance.

The complaint is based upon inspections done by the EPA's Colorado office in September 2002 and the Arizona Department of Agriculture's followup inspections in August 2003.

For more information on pesticides, please visit the EPA's Web site at:

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