Health officials concerned over pesticide-related illnesses

The Washington State Department of Health reports that 15 potential pesticide “drift events” might have made nearly 60 people sick over the past two months statewide, just about the same number of similar illnesses the agency sees annually. 

A drift event occurs when pesticide spray blows away from its intended target due to wind or if the sprayer is unaware that other people are nearby.

All the recent incidents of drift have been reported in eastern Washington counties, but the state health department has asked the Department of Agriculture, Washington State University’s Cooperative Extension, and the Farm Bureau to licensed pesticide applicators about the problem. Such events are primarily reported by orchard workers.

Illness or injury due to pesticide exposure can vary based on several factors, including the type and amount of pesticide used. Reported symptoms from exposure have included eye and respiratory irritation, skin irritation and rashes, headache, nausea and vomiting.

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