Pesticides and Language Barriers
In your line of work, how many languages are spoken on a daily basis? What measures are being taken to make sure that everyone can fully participate in all aspects of work?
Some modifications might seem unnecessary, but others seem entirely commonsensical. Public Citizen is looking into what materials should always be in multiple languages. This consumer advocacy group is urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to label pesticide warnings in Spanish as well as English.
Because Spanish is the native language for more than 80 percent of agricultural workers, this seems like a practical health precaution. Currently, there is only one Spanish sentence on pesticide labels. This sentence is a suggestion for workers to find someone to translate the warnings for them. This sentence recalls the difficulties of translating technical language and the general issues of working at a place where language barriers abound.
“Many agricultural workers remain unaware of the precautions they need to take to protect themselves from pesticides,” said Justin Feldman, worker health and safety advocate with Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Our proposal is a simple measure that would have important public health benefits.”
Bilingual labeling would help prevent serious health problems for workers. Hundreds of farm workers suffer from acute pesticide poisoning each year, and a growing body of research links long-term exposure to the chemicals with neurological disorders, reproductive problems and cancer.