EPA may allow teen farm workers to handle toxic chemicals
The EPA is considering eliminating age requirements that currently prevent teen workers in the agriculture industry from handling dangerous pesticides.
The rule, which prohibits workers under 18 years old from being in contact with pesticides, was issued in 2015 because pesticides can affect brain development and increase cancer risk in children.
The EPA says it is reevaluating that rule, along with another, more recent one that makes it illegal for minors to work with “restricted-use” pesticides (RPU) that have the potential to cause unreasonable adverse effects to the environment and injury to applicators or bystanders, and must be handled by a certified applicator.
A change to the RPU rule would affect young workers in agriculture, landscaping and pest control.
The EPA says it is reviewing the regulations “as part of the President’s Regulatory Reform Agenda,” which addresses rules deemed “appropriate for repeal, replacement or modification.”
Although the pesticide rules were strengthened under the Obama administration, the requirements were phased in to give employers time to comply. The age requirement for chemical handling in agriculture work went into effect this year. The age requirement for pesticide applicators has yet to go into effect.