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Sudden Rise In Pesticide-Related Illnesses In Eastern Washington

Washington health officials say there has been a sudden rise in pesticide-related illnesses in eastern Washington orchards. 

Kelly Stowe with the Washington State Department of Health says at least 60 people have been affected by pesticide drift since March.

“We actually have pesticide investigators who go out when we receive complaints after what is known, as a drift event and that is when applicators spray an orchard and then workers or neighbors nearby complain of illnesses from that,” Stowe said.

Stowe says the number of pesticide drift events in just the last few months is double the number seen all of last year.

The Washington Department of Agriculture is reminding pesticide applicators to carefully monitor conditions to prevent drift. There are 24,000 pesticide dealers and applicators licensed in Washington.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.