Feds Probe Florida Handling of Pesticide Case

Pesticide Health Risks
Posted at 2:52 PM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 14:52:00-04

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Federal regulators are looking into whether Florida failed to properly investigate whether farm workers sickened in a crop-dusting accident were told not to report it to authorities.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Nick Conger said Wednesday that inspectors are reviewing case files from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services related to an October 2014 accident in Belle Glade that was highlighted in a story by The Associated Press. Dozens of farm workers, mostly women, were exposed to a pesticide considered by the EPA to be one of the most dangerous. At least 13 fell ill.

Federal rules set limits on exposure to toxic farm chemicals, but an AP investigation published in February found that states including Florida rarely penalize farms for violating them.

Conger says the EPA could take over the case or require corrective action.