Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


Agriculture is the most dangerous industry for child workers, yet the laws that regulate the work of children in the fields are among the least protective of worker health and safety. This Article examines the failure of U.S. laws and international obligations to protect children from the devastating effects of pesticide exposure. Part II of this Article will explain the presence of children in fields and their heightened vulnerability to pesticides compared to adult farmworkers. In addition, it will discuss the deficiencies in current pesticide laws that result in inadequate protection for child farmworkers. Part III will examine the United States’ unsuccessful attempts to protect child farmworkers on both a national and international level. That Part will specifically look at the risk-assessment techniques used by EPA when considering a pesticide for approval and discuss how a proposed EPA policy paper will change current risk-assessment methods to include children in pesticide registrations. Part IV will discuss improvements to current procedures that could minimize harmful effects to children resulting from pesticide exposure. Finally, the Article concludes that a comprehensive solution that addresses the reasons young children are working in fields and the role of EPA in enforcing worker protection laws is necessary to keep child farmworkers safe and healthy.