Picking cabbage that morning, the workers noticed a tarry smell drifting from a nearby orchard. Mouths and lips tingled or went numb. Throats went dry. Soon some workers were vomiting and collapsing.
For 37 mostly female farm-workers in California's Central Valley, U.S. policy under Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt became personal not long after sunup one day in May 2017.
Officials in California's farm-rich Kern County, where the workers fell ill, concluded that the harvesters were reacting to a pesticide, chlorpyrifos, misapplied at the neighboring orchard.