EPA Grants Migrant Legal Aid $30,000 for Pesticide Awareness

A Michigan-based nonprofit has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to promote pesticide awareness.

In early November, the EPA announced its decision to give Migrant Legal Aid the funds to provide three audience-specific presentations and disseminate bilingual pocket guides on worker protection standards to migrant workers and families in its service area.

The funds will help support the nonprofit’s Pesticide Action Campaign, which aims to educate migrant farmworkers on pesticide safety by teaching them proper application techniques and tips to limit exposure.

Pesticide Action Campaign

Launched in September 2007, the Pesticide Action Campaign encourages farmworkers to report pesticide exposures. Incidents are severely underreported in Michigan — just three cases were reported in 2006, before the campaign was initiated — so the group wants to help farmworkers understand the importance of speaking up.

Common symptoms associated with pesticide exposure include:

  • Nausea
  • Skin rashes
  • Headaches
  • Eye irritation/blurred vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Numbness or tingling in the limbs

Employers are required to take several precautions to keep farmworkers safe from pesticides. This includes:

  • Giving pesticide training in their language.
  • Providing workers with water, soap, and towels in the field.
  • Keeping labor housing at least 50 feet from the fields.
  • Posting a list of pesticides used in the fields.
  • Taking exposed workers to the nearest medical facility.

Fighting Back Against Pesticide Exposure

In addition to educating farmworkers about pesticide exposure, Migrant Legal Aid helps those impacted stand up for their rights. The nonprofit helps impacted workers review and negotiate their medical bills, educates families about their Medicaid eligibility, obtains guardianship for minors who require medical attention, assists in the reporting of exposures, and works with authorities to lower the number of pesticide exposures.

Environmental Justice Small Grants Program

The Migrant Legal Aid grant is just one of 50 the EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants Program will bestow to organizations working to combat environmental justice issues in their communities. In total, the EPA will award $1.5 million in grants.

Since it was established in 1994, the program has awarded more than $26 million to over 1,400 community-based groups, and local and tribal organizations working to help communities overcome environmental justice issues. The program funds projects up to $30,000 depending on the availability of resources.[LW1] [BB2] 

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