MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION-TV)- More than 20,000 U.S. farmworkers - most of which are Hispanic - are poisoned by pesticides each year. The actual number of poisonings is likely much higher.
The most common herbicide in agriculture is a chemical called glyphosate, or Round-Up, after its popular brand name, used mainly to control weeds. But when it stopped working, farmers switched to a stronger chemical, Paraquat.
However, studies have found that this poses high risks to people exposed to these substances.
According to the EPA, Paraquat is considered one of the deadliest pesticides on the market and is linked to Parkinson's Disease.
"It's always our communities of color., said Yanely Martinez, who is with Safe Ag Safe Schools. "Paraquat is used in high amounts in Monterey County since the last study that came out in 2017."
A record 44,700 pounds of Paraquat were sprayed in Monterey County in 2017.
This November, California Pesticide Reform sent a letter to the Department of Pesticide Regulation asking them to stop using the chemical Paraquat because of its deadly effects on people made to use it.
"We're talking about an older group of people exposed to that from 1964 till 1968, who could have bought it in San Benito, in Monterey, in Salinas without a license," said lawyer Jeffrey Nadrich. "We have over 350 clients of people who meet this criterion. All of these people either have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease or have reached all of the symptomologies where it's just a question of time."
We contacted the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner's office but were unavailable for comment.