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Victory for California Farmworkers

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On September 25 Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law the Farmworker Health Act (AB 1963). Pesticide Action Network was a co-sponsor of the bill, which took four years and multiple attempts to pass through California's legislative process.

For the first time since the state’s medical monitoring program was established in 1974, we will be able to evaluate whether or not farmworkers are actually being protected from poisoning by the organophosphate and carbamate insecticides they handle.

These two classes of pesticides are linked to birth defects, non-hodgkins lymphoma and leukemia. Medical monitoring identifies overexposure so that workers and their employers can act to eliminate the exposures before poisoning occurs. Under the new law, laboratories that do the testing will now be required to report the results to the Department of Pesticide Regulation, which will share the information in an electronic format with the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the State Department of Public Health. This simple, low-cost program promises to significantly improve the health safety net for California farmworkers. PAN senior scientist Dr. Margaret Reeves, who has been working on the bill since it's introduction commented, "This is great progress and I commend Assemblymember Pedro Nava for seeing it through. Now we wait and watchdog. Labs will start reporting the data in January 2011. Although DPR is not obligated to generate the first report until December 2015, we fully expect to be able to receive some information about the data periodically until then."

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