Migrant Legal Aid provides services that help protect the health of farmworkers from harmful exposure in their environments. Whether the harm is from working conditions in the fields or from dangerous living conditions, our advocates uphold the rights of families to be housed in licensed, safe housing that complies with safety standards, and to work in fields where field sanitation standards are upheld, and pesticides have been properly applied and adequately dried before work begins.
- Pesticide Exposure
- Water Contamination
- Access to Water & Toilets
Farmworkers deal with two environments that pose hazards to their safety: their work environment and their living environment.
At work, they are exposed to pesticides and machinery hazards. They are closely connected to the soil, plants, bushes, and trees from which they harvest food. It is not uncommon to find children who reported working in fields that had been freshly sprayed with pesticides, and even working during the spraying of the fields. When the children were interviewed, their symptoms included: headaches, nausea, fever, dizziness, rashes, and diarrhea. Cancer, brain damage, sterility or decreased fertility, and birth defects are all long-term effects of pesticide exposure. Severe cases can lead to convulsions, coma, or death. Pesticide exposure is clearly dangerous for adults; however, it is an even greater threat to children.
- Safety Compliance
Farmworkers who migrate live in temporary housing while in Michigan, with very minimal safety standards to protect them.
Many of the housing units may go without inspection for safety compliance, and pose a threat to the health and safety of the families staying there. Open sewer pits, lack of window screens, contaminated water, structural weakness in the floors and roofs, broken stairs or hand rails, and other hazards are often found in violation of licensing standards, which must be renewed yearly through the Michigan Department of Agriculture.