Washington pesticide illnesses increase, state finds

Events since March equal yearly average

OLYMPIA — The state Health Department says there has been a sudden rise in illnesses caused by pesticide drift in Eastern Washington orchards.

The department said 15 events since March have sickened 60 people. That’s as many as the agency normally sees in a year.

Pesticide drifts onto workers in the wind or when the applicator doesn’t know people are in the area. They may suffer from eye, skin and breathing irritation and headache and nausea.

The Washington Department of Agriculture is reminding pesticide applicator to follow directions and monitor conditions to prevent drift. The department licenses 24,000 pesticide dealers and applicators in Washington.

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