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Official Press Release

Contact: Bill Furney
(919) 715-4174

Date: April 23, 2008

Governor’s Pesticide Exposure Prevention Task Force Issues Recommendations

RALEIGH – The Governor’s Task Force on Preventing Agricultural Pesticide Exposure on Monday issued its report containing 17 recommendations intended to better protect the health of workers, growers and pesticide applicators from pesticide exposures. 

The recommendations of the Task Force centered on three priority areas – improving training, compliance with regulatory processes and supporting healthcare providers seeing patients who may have had pesticide exposures.  The nine-member task force, appointed by Gov. Mike Easley, was led by Dr. Leah Devlin, State Health Director in the Division of Public Health.

“The Task Force focused on critical strategies to protect the health of people who are most likely to experience pesticide exposure during their work in agriculture – the specific charge of the task force,” Dr. Devlin said. “We developed recommendations that can be considered in the short term recognizing that further work needs to be done on a number of important issues. For that reason, one of the recommendations is to create an ongoing Interagency Pesticide Workgroup that will continue to address important system improvements to protect health.”

During meetings of the Task Force, members agreed that a key to preventing pesticide exposure is ensuring that everyone associated with farm work – including growers, farm workers, and their families – understand the consequences of pesticide exposure and how to avoid it.  Therefore, a number of the recommendations focused on enhancing the training provided to the agricultural workforce, including a new outreach component and extending the training to crew leaders and spouses of farm workers.  The task force also recommended that the training address reproductive health issues and long-term heath risks associated with pesticide exposure.
 
To improve compliance with existing regulations, the Task Force made recommendations to require more information and longer document retention.  Specifically, members recommended that pesticide applicators provide to the Department of Agriculture additional information about the farm entity with which the applicator is associated, and also that applicators document the time each pesticide application is completed.  It is recommended that written records now required to be kept for thirty days be kept for two years.  Related to compliance, recommendations on new technology and quality assurance monitoring are included so as to improve field inspections.  One recommendation includes a change to the statutes that would protect workers reporting suspected violations of pesticide laws by providing non-retaliation provisions similar to other states.

To improve the support for healthcare providers and to enhance early detection of potential pesticide exposures, a stronger surveillance system to monitor pesticide related illnesses in North Carolina was recommended by Task Force members. Additional training of health care providers who work with people who may have been exposed is also a priority.

Other members of the task force include:
Steve Troxler, Commissioner, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Kevin Beauregard, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, N.C. Department of Labor; Kristen Borré, Interim Director, N.C. Agromedicine Institute, East Carolina University; Wayne Buhler, Department of Horticultural Science, N.C. State University Pesticide Education Safety Program; Jeff Engel, State Epidemiologist, Division of Public Health, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services; Tom Melton, Assistant Director and Associate State Program Leader, Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community and Rural Development, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service; Jerry Parks, Albemarle District Health Director; John Price, Acting Director, Office of Rural Health and Community Care, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

A copy of the report is located at www.ncdhhs.gov/pressrel/2008/2008-04-23-pesticideexposure.pdf.

 

 

 

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