The next time you reach for these three popular foods, consider this sampler of the chemicals commonly applied to them in the fields, and the potential impacts to farmworkers’ health if the pesticides are used improperly.
Apples Azinphosmethyl (AZM), a pesticide, can cause nausea, convulsions, weakness, respiratory distress, headaches, eye injuries and neurological damage that makes it hard to concentrate, remember and learn.
Potatoes Metam sodium, a fumigant, classified by the EPA as a probable cause of cancer in people and as a “developmental toxicant,” interferes with the development of fetuses and embryos when mothers are exposed. Symptoms of exposure include skin rashes, nausea, breathing difficulties, fainting, sore throat, burning eyes and headaches.
Asparagus Diuron, a pesticide classified by the EPA a “known/likely” carcinogen, because it has caused cancers in laboratory animals, also has caused genetic damage in developing embryos and in bone marrow cells in mice. It decreases the production of substances necessary for normal immune system function, and causes reduced birth weights in offspring of exposed lab animals.
Sources: Farm Worker Pesticide Project and Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides