Daily News Archive
Disproportionately Vulnerable to Pesticide Exposure
(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2004) Many Latinos suffer more from environmental health problems than the general population, according to a report released by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). The report, “Hidden Danger: Environmental Health Threats in the Latino Community,” is available in Spanish and English.
Latinos, who now comprise the majority in some of the nation's most polluted urban and agricultural areas, are particularly threatened by air pollution, agricultural pesticides, and other contaminants such as lead and mercury. Exposure to these contaminants can cause serious health problems, including asthma and cancer; giardiasis, hepatitis, cholera and other waterborne diseases; and neurological and developmental problems.
The report found that too often government authorities, businesses, farm operators and landlords fail to provide warnings in Spanish about environmental health threats, while federal and state agencies have not collected relevant data or conducted studies assessing environmental health threats in Latino communities.
"We have an information gap," said Adrianna Quintero, author of the report and NRDC's director of Latino outreach. "On the one hand, government agencies have not done an adequate job investigating the link between pollution and Latino health. On the other hand, those agencies, businesses and other authorities have not adequately warned the Latino community about the health risks we know are there. No matter how you slice it, Latinos are not getting the information they need to protect themselves."
The environmental problems described in the report range from mercury contamination and air pollution to arsenic in drinking water and pesticide exposure. The report provides some sobering statistics:
across the country are suffering more from industrial pollution,"
said Dr. Elena V. Ríos, president and CEO of the National Hispanic
Medical Association. "We need a lot more information from our local,
state and federal health authorities, and the Environmental Protection
Agency needs to do a better job enforcing the law. Not only would that
improve the health of the Latino community, it would improve the health
of all Americans."
TAKE ACTION: Speak out against farmworker’s exposure to toxic chemicals. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee details steps to take to get farmworkers the rights that they deserve. We also recommend visiting the Farmworker Justice Fund website for more information.