The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking to implement new safety measures for handling and applying pesticides on the nation’s farm ground.  The proposed changes come on the heels of an “Agricultural Health Study” of pesticide impacts on human health overseen by the EPA, USDA, National Institute of Health and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The proposed changes would include making pesticide protection training for applicators an annual requirement rather than once every five years.  Furthermore, children under 16 would be prohibited from handling pesticides unless they are member of a family farm.  No-entry buffer zones for fields treated with pesticides would be increased from 25 feet to 100 feet to limit exposure to overspray and fumes.  Finally, the EPA would expand requirements for posting warnings on new treated fields.

The study of approximately 90,000 people from Iowa and North Carolina linked pesticides use to health problems of various cancers and Parkinson’s disease.  It is likely the EPA views the proposed measures as a step, rather than a cure, in addressing the problems with handling pesticides.  Additional safety measures may be in the future as the impact of pesticides is further researched.

Public comments will be accepted before finalizing a decision on the proposed safety rules.