The writing of this book came about through a serendipitous circumstance. I wrote a book dealing with child labor in the United States, published three years earlier, containing a chapter that included a description of the hazards migrant farmworkers and their children face, not the least of which was exposure to pesticides. While mentioning the dangers pesticides posed, I thought that a book on pesticides could be a future undertaking. However, I put it on the back burner and turned my full attention to the project at hand.
Approximately one year ago, I was considering other potential book topics, when my wife, Dina, suggested a book on pesticides. I recalled that pesticides had been mentioned in the child-labor book and agreed that it could be an interesting and manageable proposition. Soon, I began research on that topic.
Agriculture, covered in the second chapter, was singled out because a substantial majority, 70 percent or more, of pesticides are applied in U.S. farming operations on an annual basis. Billions of dollars are spent in the sale and use of these hazardous chemicals. Their deleterious impact upon the health of farmers, farmworkers, and their children will be examined, with special emphasis on threats to the well-being of several million migrant farmworkers’ families.
Another important topic deals with the health problems attributed to pesticide residues in food, most of which is grown using a variety of pesticides. Acute and chronic effects on children’s health will be investigated.
A largely overlooked area also merits consideration. Nearly 90 percent of all U.S. households use pesticides, primarily for insect control. The number and concentration of pesticides detected in the indoor air of homes is typically greater than those discovered in the air outdoors. People spend the majority of their time indoors, more than 90 percent of each day. Millions of pounds of these toxic chemicals are also applied on American lawns and gardens, when safer alternatives are available.