Pesticide Exposure Among Farmworkers and Their Families in the Eastern United States: Matters of Social and Environmental Justice

  • Thomas A. Arcury
  • Sara A. Quandt


Pesticides are found in the workplaces and living quarters of farmworkers and their families. Despite federal regulations designed to reduce pesticide exposure among farmworkers, research conducted in farmworker communities in the eastern US shows that such regulations are only partially enforced. Farmworker knowledge and beliefs about pesticides are often contrary to safety behaviors encouraged in this population. While studies documenting exposure of farmworkers to pesticides and the dose received are limited, they indicate that most farmworker housing is contaminated with a broad range of pesticides, exposing workers as well as family members to pesticides. Most workers and family members have absorbed measurable doses of pesticides. The health implications of different levels of pesticide exposure and dose are not known, but epidemiological studies indicate that lifetime exposure is associated with significant health effects. Because social and environmental factors place farmworkers at a disproportionate risk of pesticide exposure, this hazard of farmwork is both a social and environmental injustice for which solutions are needed.


United States Environmental Protection Agency Farm Work Personal Protective Equipment Pesticide Exposure Residential Pesticide 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas A. Arcury
    • 1
  • Sara A. Quandt
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Family and Community MedicineWake Forest University School of MedicineUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and Prevention Division of Public Health Sciences,Department of Family and Community MedicineWake Forest University School of Medicine USA

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