2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Hidden Figures of Environmental Racism: Undocumented Farmworkers and Pesticide Exposure

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Isaac Castellano


Worker safety remains a significant concern across the United States despite years of awareness campaigns, regulations, and mandatory training for many heavily used pesticides across the United States. These concerns were on display in May of 2019, when farmworkers in Parma, Idaho were hospitalized due to pesticide exposure. While the incident was investigated by the Idaho Department of Agriculture officials, a lack of advanced lab testing resulted in a denial for worker compensation claims. This research examines this case and other similar cases, arguing that Pesticide exposure to farmworkers represents an example of environmental racism. Scholarship suggests pesticide exposure is due to a decrease in farmworkers’ legal protection and workers’ rights. This research expands on prior research, arguing that documentation status is also a clear cause of a lack of institutional response to concerns of workplace safety. Utilizing data from the Pesticides Database Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risk (SENSOR), United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Migration Policy Institute (MPI) tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) and the Decennial Census, my analysis works to determine whether documentation status of farmworkers is correlated with pesticide exposure.

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