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Pregnancy And Pesticides: Lawsuits Targeting Specific Chemicals Gain Ground

Angela Johnston
Lawsuits against big pesticide manufacturers are difficult to win often because the manufacturers are huge companies, with big legal teams.

This summer, farmworkers in California have been working with extreme heat, wildfire smoke, and, in Monterey County, high rates of COVID-19 as they harvest and pick the food we eat every day. Then, there’s another health concern, and it’s been around for much longer — pesticide exposure.

For the past 20 years, researchers have measured the effects of early pesticide exposure on hundreds of children of farmworkers. The study is called the CHAMACOS study, and it’s shown links between pesticides, and lasting neurodevelopmental problems, like ADHD. The findings have influenced some changes, like restrictions around spraying near schools or during school hours. But even though the study has been around for two decades, there hasn’t been a huge lawsuit. In this interview, we hear why that is.

"It's always very scary to be the person that stands up. I have found in this case, it's a bit unique because the parents are such strong advocates for their kids. They are doing anything, everything they can to get them the help they need." - Ashlea Schwarz

Click the play button above to listen.

Crosscurrents Pregnancy And Pesticides: Farmworker Health In The Salinas ValleyHealth
Angela Johnston is the Senior Producer of Uncuffed and an editor in the KALW newsroom. She holds a Master’s degree in journalism and graduated from KALW’s Audio Academy program. She’s worked for KALW in numerous roles - from the deputy news director, to the health and environment reporter, and she's covered everything from lead poisoning to climate change. Her work has aired on KALW, KQED, Reveal, and The Pulse. She also freelances as a producer and editor for Cosmic Standard and AFAR Media. Outside of work, she loves to swim in the bay, surf small waves on her longboard, read, backpack, cook, and garden.