A recent report from Boise State University confirms that the lack of proper training, oversight and monitoring is leading to negative health outcomes for Latina farmworkers in southwest Idaho. As reported in the Idaho Press, the research focused on a broad range of health issues facing Latinas, who are making up an increasing proportion of farmworkers in the U.S. and in Idaho.

Researchers took samples to detect pesticides in the urine of farmworkers and found that detectable levels of MDA (an insecticide metabolite) and 2-4D a common weedkiller were found in all urine samples, with the highest levels found in women who applied pesticides and did not receive any of the state and federally-required training.

The research was also the focus of a recent Idaho Environmental Forum webinar.

The study comes on the heels of disputes in the Idaho Legislature during the 2020 session, which led to a rewrite of Idaho’s pesticide rules and regulations. ICL and partners advocated for improvements in the rule to increase attention to safe pesticide application, and to ensure that training is provided in multiple languages. While the state management agency, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, accepted some of the suggestions, we remain concerned that pesticide oversight, training and monitoring should remain a focus for state policymakers.

We’re also concerned that proposed changes to federal EPA pesticide regulations could reduce protections for public health. The EPA is proposing to eliminate existing 25-100 foot buffers between people (including farmworkers and members of the public) and any active pesticide application. While the EPA change was proposed in late 2019, so far, no final rule has been issued.

In the upcoming 2021 Idaho Legislative Session, we expect more discussion about Idaho’s pesticide rules and we’ll continue advocating strongly for policies that protect public, farmworker and environmental health from the threat of inappropriate pesticide application.