For Consideration by the National Latino Congreso
Friday, September 8th, 2006
Author: Susan Bass
Organization: Earth Day Network
Phone: (202) 518 0044
Title: Environmental Health
Whereas, a large percentage of U.S. Latinos live and work in urban and
agricultural areas where they face heightened exposure to air pollution, unsafe
drinking water, pesticides, lead and mercury contamination.
Whereas, Latinos dominate the workforces most exposed to second-hand smoke,
including hotel and restaurant work, construction, agriculture and other
under-regulated sectors and are more likely to have occupations exposing them to
asbestos, textile, silica and coal dust, poisons, radiation and certain
Whereas, despite the serious risks, government officials and some in the
scientific community have largely overlooked the impact of pollution and
second-hand smoke on the health of Latinos; federal and state agencies fail to
collect relevant data; few studies assess environmental health threats in Latino
communities; and many government authorities, industry, farm operators, and
landlords fail to provide warnings in Spanish about environmental health
Whereas Latinos, whether employed or unemployed, are more likely to be
uninsured than any racial or ethnic group and are thus more likely to be heavily
impacted by environmental health threats.
In passing this resolution, we are asking that:
- The federal, state and local governments adopt and implement the Ten
Commitments to Protect Farmworkers from Toxic Pesticides formulated by the
farmworker and advocate organizations listed thereon and guarantee (Global
Pesticide Campaigner Vol. 8, Number 4) Dec. 1998 and guarantee those rights
for farm communities as well.
- The federal, state and local governments adopt and support
policies and legislation (legislation) which eliminate the exposure of the
public to environmental tobacco smoke (second hand smoke).
- The federal, state and local governments make funding available
for the study of health effects on Latino and other minority communities from
heightened exposure to air, water and toxics pollution, pesticides, and
second-hand smoke and for a lead-screening program in low income housing,
including cumulative effects of ozone, particulate matter and pesticides, and
make the results of these tests available to the public. Every state should
report the results of blood level testing, including the race and ethnicity of
every child tested to track progress of lead poisoning prevention
- The federal, state and local governments inform the Latino
community about the health effects of pollution on their community, the
specific hazards posed by conditions in their community and ways to reduce
their health risks, using Spanish materials and media outlets as necessary and
involve Latinos in stakeholder discussion about proposed legislation affecting
- The federal and state government should adopt Community
Right-to-Know Legislation that warns citizens when sewage is being dumped into
rivers, lakes and waterways.
- The federal government increase funding to build and improve
drinking water systems in the U.S. - Mexico border region and to improve
sewage treatment across the country. Investment in water infrastructure should
be increased at all levels of government, and funds should be used more
efficiently to improve such infrastructure. Existing standards and permits
should be enforced.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should enforce
regulations that require power plants to install modern pollution controls
when they make upgrades that would increase pollutant emissions. The EPA
should withdraw its recent changes to these regulations.
- The EPA should require power plants to install the best available
technology to achieve maximum control of mercury emissions and should require
prompt reduction of as much as 90 percent in mercury emissions from power
- The federal, state, and local governments should require prompt
cleanup of toxic waste and other hazardous chemical contamination in a manner
that is fully protective of the health of children and vulnerable populations
in Latino and all communities, particularly those communities
disproportionately affected by toxic chemicals from multiple sources.
- Note the Ten Commitments to Protect Farmworkers from Toxic
- Prohibit the use of any pesticide known or suspected to cause cancer,
birth defects, neurological damage, or that are in the highest acute toxicity
category. During any phaseout period, require a minimum 14 day quarantine
period before workers can reenter a work area in which any such pesticide has
- Prohibit all aerial application of pesticides.
- Guarantee farmworkers the right to know what specific pesticides
are used in their workplace through crop sheets, posting of warning signs and
training which covers health effects, protective clothing and other safety
information in the language the workers understand.
- Require and enforce a mandatory national pesticide use reporting
system for all users to include all active and inert ingredients in all
- Require and enforce a mandatory national reporting system for all
potential pesticide-related incidents and illnesses by agricultural employers
and health professionals.
- Guarantee all farmworkers the right to bring an action to enforce
their rights under the law including employer retaliation, violation of the
U.S. Worker Protection Standard and regulation of toxic pesticides.
- Guarantee all farmworkers the rights to organize, have union
representation, earn a living wage and overtime pay, have strong child labor
provisions, work in a safe workplace and obtain workers' compensation
- Require and fund a continuing program, with the cooperation and
approval of farm workers, for both biological and environmental monitoring of
pesticides among farm worker families and their communities.
- Require and fund research, with the cooperation and approval of
farm workers, to set up a program to monitor long-term effects of pesticides
including cancer, reproductive harm and neurological damage.
- Change federal and state agricultural funding to promote and
research the transition from toxic pesticides to bionational and sustainable
pest control methods.