Although pesticides have revolutionized the agricultural industry, the chemicals contained in them can also be toxic to humans. Because pesticides can have such detrimental health and environmental related effects, it is vital that, if you have been harmed by contact with a pesticide, you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Exposure to pesticides through inhalation can cause a variety of mild health problems, like eye and skin irritation, but it can also have much more serious effects. For instance, long-term exposure to low-dose pesticides can lead to immune system suppression, hormone disruption, reproductive problems, and cancer. Other, more generalized, health problems caused by contact with pesticides include:
- Vomiting; and
When sprayed, pesticides are often carried by the wind to other locations. It has even been estimated that as much as 25 percent of pesticides hit non-target vegetation, air, or soil, and that, after a few days, up to 90 percent of the applied chemical can have spread into its surroundings. Groundwater pollution from pesticides has also become a worldwide problem, with the United States Geological Survey reporting that at least 143 pesticide have been found in ground water across the country, in 43 states. This is especially problematic, as it can take years for ground water contamination to dissipate, and cleanup is difficult and extremely expensive.
Pesticides can also reduce biodiversity by destroying habitats and endangering numerous species. For instance, in the late nineties, the use of DDT as a pesticide was directly linked to the thinning of eggshells and the subsequent decline in the bald eagle population.
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) created a system of federal pesticide regulation that requires all pesticides to be registered with the USDA. Additionally, all products must have a list of ingredients and directions for use displayed on their labels.
The Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act (FEPCA) requires that, for a pesticide to be registered with the EPA, it must not cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.
Generally, someone who is injured by a pesticide must show that:
- The defendant, whether a manufacturer, distributor, employer, or other party, had a duty of reasonable care toward the injured person;
- The defendant breached that duty; and
- In doing so, caused the plaintiff’s injury.
Under a negligence theory, manufacturers may be held liable for an injury if a pesticide is found to contain harmful ingredients. Employers can also be held accountable for injuries to their employees if they failed to provide adequate safety guidelines, such as requiring the use of goggles or gloves. Pest control companies and even neighbors can be held liable if they injured someone by their negligent acts.
Pesticides can have devastating health- and environment-related effects. If you have been injured by a pesticide, please contact one of our experienced environmental lawyers at Napoli Shkolnik, Attorneys at Law, at (212) 397-1000, for a free consultation.