New App Helps Farmworkers Understand The Pesticides They Work With

By Johanna Bejarano

There’s a new tool to prevent pesticide exposure and illness among Latinx farmworkers. The University of Washington created the app, “Pesticide Labels, Now!’ to address language barriers on technical labels written in English. 

The Department of Health Pesticide Illness Data showed at least 975 illness cases among farmworkers in Washington from 2020 to 2016; 40 percent were Latino workers.

The root causes of the problems include drift, lacking or ineffective notification or posting, inadequate or timely decontamination, and label violations.

Pablo Palmández, an agricultural researcher from the University of Washington Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (PNASH), heard from farmworkers.

“They would like to have labels in Spanish because everything is in English, and it is too technical; they do not understand,” Palmández said. “For safety, it would be better if they can have access to this information in Spanish.”

Palmandez and Kit Galvin then created ¡Etiquetas de pesticidas, Ahora! (Pesticide Labels, Now!) – a mobile app designed to make technical labels easy for Spanish speakers to understand. It is available for IOS and Android. The app is part of the Bilingual Pesticide Safety Project.

Farmworkers have access to pesticide labels in both English and Spanish using their cell phones, even without the internet. For now, the app gives quick access to 40 labels of pesticides commonly applied in apple and pear production. And, with more funding, they want to provide practical tools for farm workers’ safety.