Population Health

March 28, 2019

Initiative-funded project assesses health disparities among state’s agricultural workers

Image of worker handling lettuce plantUniversity of Washington researchers launched a study last year to identify and address health disparities related to the environmental, occupational, socioeconomic and biological stressors faced by rural underserved agricultural workers in Skagit and Whatcom counties. The project is funded by a $50,000 grant from the Population Health Initiative.

The community-research team created a survey to be administered to the farmworkers. The questions were developed to identify, and then prioritize, agricultural, environmental, and occupational health and safety concerns, zeroing in on such aspects as housing conditions, pesticide use in the fields, availability of safety gear, heat-related illness, work-related injuries, and worker rights and social justice.

The research team recently presented its findings in a community forum attended by some of the workers and community leaders. Of the top 10 environmental concerns, 60 percent of respondents identified pesticides; 54 percent identified pests such as rodents; 39 percent were concerned about water quality at work, and 35 percent, water quality at home. These and other preliminary data from the pilot project will be used for multiple purposes, including stakeholder advocacy efforts.

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