Children and teenagers may be exposed to pesticides while doing farm work. They may be hired to harvest food or perform other tasks like detasseling corn. While there are no age restrictions for children working on their parent’s farm, others as young as age 10 may be hired for farm work. Minimum age requirements vary by state.
Pesticide risks to youth working in agriculture:
- Pesticide residues in fields can expose youth working in agriculture. They can be exposed to residues on or in plants, soil, water (including dew), or air.
- The risk depends on the toxicity of the pesticide ingredients and how much of the pesticide someone is exposed to.
- Younger adolescents are at an increased risk from pesticides. This is due to their greater intake of food, water, and air for their body size compared to adults.
- Older adolescents (teenagers) may act in ways that increase risky behaviors. For example, they may choose not to wear long-sleeved or other protective clothing when working in pesticide-treated areas.
- Pesticide residues may be present on several types of farm equipment. Worker protection laws do not allow farm workers under age 18 to use or handle pesticides, opened containers, or application equipment.
Tips for youth to reduce pesticide risks in agricultural settings:
- Wear long sleeves and pants, close-toed shoes, long socks, gloves, and a hat.
- If working in wet or dew-covered vegetation, wear a poncho or other waterproof cover. This keeps water that can carry pesticide residues from soaking into your clothes.
- Wash hands before using phones, eating, drinking, chewing gum, using tobacco, or using the toilet.
- Never eat fruits or vegetables growing in the field until they are washed.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands while working and wash immediately after leaving the field.
- Shower right after work, put on clean clothes, and wash work clothing separate from any other laundry. Wash work clothing before wearing it again.
- Avoid areas recently treated with pesticides. You may see warning signs or be told about them verbally. Some products require a waiting period between application and when workers are allowed in the field. This is a Restricted Entry Interval. Do not enter these areas.
If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at email@example.com.
Last updated August 10, 2022