Bilingual Pesticide Safety

Bilingual Pesticide Safety Projectgraphic of Bilingual Pesticide Safety on mobile device

Three hundred acute pesticide poisonings occurred among Washington state agricultural workers in a recent five-year period. US EPA regulations require a booklet (label) to come with the pesticide product that includes safety procedures for handling pesticides, environmental protection, emergency response, and first-aid measures. For the majority of agricultural workers Spanish is their primary language. The only Spanish on the label is, “If you do not understand this label, find someone who can explain it to you in detail.” Often, orchard managers provide ad hoc translations and they may not be available when needed. This may result in improper pesticide handling, worker exposure, acute pesticide illness, and environmental & crop damage.

A two-part solution

We created a tool for this health and social justice issue.

  1. Information service –  A database of EPA required pesticide safety information for poisoning prevention, environmental protection, and emergency/first aid procedures. In Spanish and English.
    Accurate translations validated for agricultural worker comprehension.
  2. Delivery system – Mobile device application with easy to navigate menu.
    Offline access with online updates. No need for cell or internet service; everyone uses a smart phone.

To date

We demonstrated proof-of-concept and agricultural industry need.

  • Pilot-tested the research version with Washington State orchard managers*.
  • Received PNASH Center Emerging Issues and the CoMotion Step Award funding (UW technology transfer group).
  • Developed relationships with state and federal agencies, WSU, tree fruit growers, and grower and worker organizations that enables us to carry this project forward.

Moving from research to service

Self-sustaining not-for-profit service housed within the UW School of Public Health.

  • Complete system upgrades for expansion into other states and crops (Fall 2017)
  • Conduct the beta-testing (2018 Winter & Spring)
  • Prepare for product release (January 2019)
  • Implement business plan. Revenue sources to include: subscription fees, sponsorships, licensing.

For more information contact:

Kit Galvin

Pablo Palmández (habla español)

*Research funding provided by CDC/NIOSH cooperative agreement #5 U54 OH007544 for the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health (PNASH) Center.