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Report Finds Pesticide Accidents Affect Range of Population
(from September 12, 2002)

A recent report in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that incidence of chemical release accidents vary seasonally, according to Reuters Health. The research surveyed accidents involving the release of toxic chemicals in 14 states. In Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa, incidence of these releases tended to increase in springtime. Lead author Zhava Berkowitz of the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry wrote, "This report emphasizes the association between the planting season, defined as April through June, and increased adverse public health effects because of acute releases of hazardous substances."

Of the chemical releases surveyed, 38% involved pesticides. 26% involved ammonia, an ingredient in fertilizer. Pesticide related accidents included a chemical plant explosion that resulted in 4 deaths and 20 injuries. Another release occurred when a crop duster crashed, releasing a toxic herbicide. 125 people were evacuated from an area where ammonia was accidentally being released.

The report found that these releases are a threat not only to workers, but also to the general public, including children. They draw the conclusion that public knowledge of pesticide dangers must increase, writing, "Education about the hazardous nature of ammonia, pesticides and other substances involved in the agriculture industry should be extended to the general public."