Effectsof Pesticides on Migrant Workers

Effectsof Pesticides on Migrant Workers

Migrantstudents face numerous challenges both in and outside school. Thechallenges range from language barriers to social isolation withinthe school. I noticed that my migrant students are facing the sameissues on a daily basis. One major obstacle I noticed in my migrants’class is the rate of absenteeism. Most of the students relate thesickness to the amount of pesticides that are added to vegetables andfruits. Apart from them being sick, their parents are also bedriddendue to the same ailments. They normally complain of headaches, minorasthma, and increased allergy issues among others. As a teenager, Iwas a migrant worker for quite a while, but I never got to experiencesuch symptoms. Before studying how pesticides affect migrant workers,I had limited knowledge how it impacted on my students. In findinganswers to this query, the basis of my thesis is: what is the effectof pesticides on school attendance among immigrant students? It isalso necessary to ascertain the short and long term impacts ofpesticide exposure.


Aftera deep research into this topic, I realized that consumers arecontinuously ignoring foods grown with pesticides. In a reportconducted by Farmworker Justice, it showed that the exposure topesticides endangers farm workers. In a bid to protect the workers,the body expressed concern that the group has had to experience theimpacts of severe pesticide poisoning like nausea, seizures,shortness of breath, and headaches. They went further to affirm thefact that the pesticides had long term effects on the exposedindividuals (Farmworkers Justice, 2013).

Thisresearch efficiently suggests that migrant workers are an endangeredgroup. The results stated by the research correlate with the symptomsmy students are experiencing. The findings are also similar to a 2001study which showed that pesticide-related illnesses are a major causeof acute morbidity, particularly among migrant workers. It was aresearch conducted in California yet viewed in a wider scope (RupaliDas, 2001). As the report ascertains, Mexican-born farm workers arethe most predominant in the United States. Back in 1998, they were 77percent typically ¾ of the entire population of farm workers. It isfor this reason that another study suggested that pesticide-causedailments affect numerous absenteeism as well as dropouts amongmigrant workers.

Areport by the Laborers Care Program affirmed that the agriculturallaborers were roughly 133,000 of whom the majority were migrants. Aworrying statistic also shows that almost 50 percent of the workersare children aged between 6 and 14. As the findings also suggestedmost of these kids had limited knowledge on how to read or write(Campaña, 2010). I find it worrying since most of these kids shouldbe in class studying. Instead, they are involved in the day to dayundertakings of the farm. At the farms, they get exposed to thepesticides at tender ages.


TheFarmworker Justice also stated that exposure to pesticide causeslaborers to undergo more chemical-related harms and ailments than anyother labor force countrywide. Work-related contact with pesticidepoisons roughly 20,000 laborers annually, according to approximationsmade by the EPA. The figures could be much higher. Numerous aspectslead to the underestimation of the issue such as the failure andapprehension of infected labors to get health care, healthmisdiagnosis, and also the lack of a synchronized nationwide incidentreporting structure. Actualizing these statistics with my classroomexperience shows a positive correlation. In other words, most of mystudents do not seek medical advice.

Theyassume headaches are quite normal, hence no need to seek medicalattention. Such notions do not assist the related bodies inestablishing the exact number of affected persons.There are some waysin which farm laborers get into contact with the pesticides. Theyinclude hand labor works in areas that have been treated, directspray, exposure to pesticide residue, and aerial drift. Research hasalso affirmed that pesticide-grown crops have detrimental effects onthe consumers.

Althoughthe laborers might not be in the fields, their families, particularlykids, are in danger of high pesticide exposure. Labors carry thepesticides into their households as residues on their skin, tools,shoes, and clothes. They unintentionally infect their kids throughhugs, especially before showering. The closeness of residential areasand the agricultural fields pose threats of aerial drifts intohouseholds, playgrounds, and schools. As a matter of fact, some ofthe playgrounds are adjacent to the agricultural fields that havebeen sprayed. Pesticide contact is an inevitable reality for farmhands as well as their families since pesticides are in the soilsthey cultivate, the air, water, and foods.

Accordingto a 2013 Early Childhood Report, kids are more susceptible torespiratory and communicable illnesses. In addition to that, theytend to be more affected by pesticides than adults due to theirsurface to body ratio, immature immune systems, and greatercardiovascular flow rates. Children cannot withstand exposure topesticides. Their body structure and the weak immune system puts themat an increased risk of chronic ailments. As portrayed by thedifferent research works above, there is a direct correlation betweenthe rates of absenteeism to the pesticide exposure.

Lackof appropriate washing amenities is another core issue. In this case,the already polluted sinks were also used to prepare foods. Inaddition to that, the bathtubs used to wash children may also be usedto wash the contaminated clothes. According to this early childhoodreport, continuous exposure to the pesticides leads to neurologicalissues. The effects can be severe in the long-term. As indicated bythis body some of the infectious diseases include

  • Dermatitis, which is a skin disorder resulting from latex, allergenic plants, chemicals, or fertilizers.

  • Respiratory conditions that occur due to exposure to fumes, fuels, dust, fertilizers, herbicides, solvents, and gasses.

  • Cancer due to exposure to various carcinogens such as oils, ultraviolet radiations, fumes, and pesticides.

  • Mental disorders and abuse. According to a 1999 study by Baron and Villajero, kids of migrant workers are more than six times likely to get mistreated than the others. The study further stated that demeaning racial descriptions, interrupted schooling, and frequent moves are characteristic of migrant laborers` children. The impacts can also be quite detrimental to their mental health [ CITATION Sel13 l 1033 ].


Addressingthe issue of absenteeism is not an easy task since the risks arestill quite open. Migrant workers are known to move from place toplace in search of work. They are also bound to be exposed to thevarious risks emanating from pesticides. As I was looking for asolution, I realized the chances of helping these kids are ratherminute.

However,the best way of protecting the kids will be to induce stringent rulesin the migrant worker policies. The children have a right to betterhealth as well as a substantive education. As established byresearch, the children can be unintentionally exposed through theirparents. Therefore, adopting stringent policies to govern the workersin the fields would be beneficial. For instance, they should notleave the workplace on their working attires and without evenbathing.

Thefarmworkers justice identified that pesticide-grown foods are harmfulto human health. As a means of avoiding detrimental impacts on theconsumers, farmers should be encouraged to abandon these farmingmethods. I came across some studies trying to emphasize on thenegative consequences of pesticide-grown foods. More has to be doneregarding migrant worker education. Most of them ignore the symptomswhich tend to worsen with time. Children also fail to come to schooldue to ailments. However, they do not get appropriate medication andin many cases, the diseases recur. Such events are avoidable throughproper migrate worker education.


Ingeneral, my thesis statement seems to be confirmed. There is acorrelation between exposure to pesticides and short term and longterm impacts on the health of migrant students. Effects of pesticideson migrant workers are quite many. The most damaging ones pertaintheir medical condition that tends to deteriorate with time. Asevidenced by research, the pesticides have both short and long termeffects. The short-term impacts include headaches, nausea, skinissues, and minor asthma among others. The long-term effects includecancer and mental disorders. These aspects are visible, particularlyamong school children. This issue has raised the number ofabsenteeism from class. The research has heightened my knowledge ofpesticides and pesticide-grown foods and its impacts on consumers.


Brown, B. (2016). Pesticides: The Workplace Hazard The EPA Is Ignoring. Retrieved from Pesticides: The Workplace Hazard The EPA Is Ignoring: http://earthjustice.org/features/pesticides-the-workplace-hazard-the-epa-is-ignoring

Campaña, A. A. (2010). Migrant Farm Workers Exposed to Pesticides in Sinaloa, Mexico. Mexico.

Farmworkers Justice. (2013). Exposed and Ignored: How Pesticides are endangering our nation`s farmworkers.

Iltus, S. (2013). Children of seasonal migrant workers. Journal of Early Childhood Matters, 1-54.

Rupali Das, A. S. (2001). Pesticide-related Illness among Migrant Farm Workers in the United States. California.