Pesticide Safety in Tree Fruit: Translating Research, Overcoming Barriers

This project worked toward minimizing agricultural worker and family pesticide exposure in the tree fruit industry by translating and disseminating research results and overcoming barriers to pesticide safety practices, particularly those that affect the large Hispanic workforce in the Pacific Northwest.

By combining research findings with the expertise of orchard owners, managers, and handlers, this project was able to develop solutions to protect workers from potential pesticide exposure and illness. This collaborative translation project capitalized on the expertise of two institutions, the University of Washington Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center's health and safety research and the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center’s research and outreach expertise within the agricultural community. 

Protecting tree fruit workers from pesticide exposure can be challenging given the outdoor work environment, difficulties in the use of personal protective equipment, and other barriers. Orchard owners and managers will be better able to protect their workers from exposure with the science-based information and solutions provided by this project.

This project also expanded our outreach on the PNASH guide, Practical Solutions for Pesticide Safety, which contains workplace pesticide safety solutions that have been developed on the farm by farmers and pesticide handlers. The guide offers an array of workplace solutions that are both practical and easy to implement, accompanied by valuable personal and scientific support for each solution. The solutions featured in Practical Solutions were found through interviews with handlers and farm managers, visits to farms and on-farm demonstrations, and recommendations from the project's Expert Working Group (made up of pesticide handlers, farm managers, and safety educators). This model could be effective in other industry sectors as well, as it speaks directly from “farmer-to-farmer.”

The project concluded with a survey of growers that looked at trends for future education and research efforts within the tree fruit industry. WSU and UW researchers collaborated on the survey that covered a range of topics including:

  • Pest management: brown marmorated stink bug & changes in codling moth pest control
  • The Worker Protection Standard: current revisions
  • Heat Exposure: PPE for handlers
  • Supervisory training: improving supervisory skills to help improve operations and safety for the agricultural workforce.  

Co-principal Investigator: Kit Galvin, MS, CIH
Senior Research Scientist, PNASH Center
University of Washington

Co-principal Investigator: Nadine Lehrer, PhD
Assistant Professor, Sustainability and Food Studies
Chatham University

NIOSH 2016-2022

Partners and Advisories:
Washington State University, Tree Fruit Research Extension Center
Washington State University, Social and Economic Research Survey Center

Lehrer N, Sneegas G. Beyond polarization: using Q methodology to explore stakeholders' views on pesticide use, and related risks for agricultural workers, in Washington State's tree fruit industry. Agric Human Values. 2018 Jan;35(1):131-147. doi: 10.1007/s10460-017-9810-z. Epub 2017 Jun 30. PubMed PMID: 29643573; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5890807.

Galvin K, Krenz J, Harrington M, Palmández P, Fenske RA. Practical Solutions for Pesticide Safety: A Farm and Research Team Participatory Model. J Agromedicine. 2016;21(1):113-22. doi: 10.1080/1059924X.2015.1107519. PubMed PMID: 26488540; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5841593.

Galvin K, Brunner J, Nadine L. Emerging Issues and Concerns in the Washington State Tree Fruit Industry. 2017 Final Report. Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center. 

Practical Solutions for Pesticide Safety - Guide and Pesticide Educator Kit (English and Spanish)

Trade Article: New Pesticide Safety Guide Released, Good Fruit Grower, March 2012

Webpage: Practical Solutions for Pesticide Safety: Protecting Agricultural Pesticide Handlers

Other Projects:
Practical Solutions for Pesticide Safety