(SACRAMENTO) Governor Jerry Brown has signed AB 2892, a bill by Assemblymember Luis A. Alejo (D-Salinas) and the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee that will protect agricultural workers who regularly handle highly toxic organophosphate and carbamate (OP/CB) pesticides.
OP/CB pesticides are especially dangerous because exposure can lower the level of a worker’s cholinesterase, an enzyme essential to the proper functioning of the nervous system. Cholinesterase depression can lead to blurred vision, diarrhea, increased respiratory secretions, tremors, seizures, loss of consciousness, and even death.
While the use of these dangerous pesticides has declined, millions of pounds are still applied every year, Alejo said. We need to better protect the hardworking men and women who harvest our food in the fields. I thank the Governor for recognizing the importance of this legislation. Lives are at stake.
AB 2892 enhances the California Medical Supervision Program, which requires employees who handle OP/CB pesticides to be monitored by a physician-medical supervisor. Monitoring cholinesterase levels enables detection of overexposure so that action, such as removing the employee from further exposure, can be taken to prevent worker illness.
AB 2892 improves the California Medical Supervision Program by requiring that cholinesterase test results be transmitted to the state for continued program and employee evaluation and improvement. It also requires medical supervisors to register with the Office of Health Hazard Assessment so that OEHHA can provide outreach and oversight of participating physicians. And it requires medical supervisors to report depressions in cholinesterase levels so that the Department of Pesticide Regulation and local agricultural commissioners can appropriately track and follow up on over-exposure cases.
AB 2016 enjoyed near unanimous bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature. The Assembly approved it 75-1 and the Senate 38-0.