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empirical study of farm workers in South Florida: Environmental injustice in the fields?

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Date Issued:
1997
Summary:
A Social Distance Model was developed for this dissertation to illustrate the marginalization of the migrant farm workers in South Florida. The social distance indicators used in the Social Distance Model are: (1) income level, (2) education level, (3) use of the dominant language, (4) property ownership, (5) laws and legal rights, and (6) race and ethnicity. These indicators demonstrate the marginalization of farm workers. This marginalization results in the creation of an occupational subgroup vulnerable to pesticide exposure, lack of protection under the law, and health problems. The four research questions which are used to illustrate this theoretical model are: (1) do the demographics of the sample population represent a marginalized subculture vulnerable to exposure to environmental hazards? (2) is there a relationship between working in the fields in two South Florida counties and exposure to pesticides? (3) are the current federal and Florida laws which protect farm workers from exposure to pesticides being properly implemented? and (4) is there a relationship between the health of farm workers in two South Florida counties and their exposure to pesticides? A survey about pesticide exposure, health problems and laws and legal rights was used to gather data about farm workers in two South Florida counties. A face-to-face, closed and open-ended survey was conducted with farm workers at several migrant farm worker day care centers in Palm Beach and Indian River County, Florida. The results of the dissertation reveal that: the negative outcomes of the Social Distance Model, which are poverty, alienation, lack of skills, economic exploitation, lack of use of the dominant language, lack of information on laws and legal rights, and few choices and alternatives for employment and housing, provide an explanation for the farm workers' marginalization. As a result of their marginalization, farm workers are an occupational group vulnerable to pesticide exposure. Another finding of the study is that federal and state laws which are currently in place to protect the workers from pesticide exposure do not adequately protect the workers from exposure to harmful pesticides and farm workers are uninformed of the laws which exist to protect them from possible pesticide exposure. Several of the health problems farm workers noted match the symptoms of moderate and mild pesticide poisoning. The results of the study demonstrate that the farm workers are disadvantaged because the majority of the farm workers: earn a yearly wage that puts them below the poverty line, do not speak English, have a minimal education level, and are uninformed about the current laws pertaining to pesticide exposure. The combination of these findings leads this researcher to the conclusion that the migrant farm workers interviewed for this study are a vulnerable subgroup of the American population, at serious risk of exposure to environmental hazards. The study concludes with policy recommendations for Florida state officials and the federal government to change and better enforce the current laws pertaining to farm workers. These changes will help the implementation and enforcement of the current laws designed to protect farm workers from pesticide exposure. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
Title: An empirical study of farm workers in South Florida: Environmental injustice in the fields?.
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Name(s): Murphy, Martha Celeste
Florida Atlantic University, Degree Grantor
Leip, Leslie A., Thesis Advisor
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Date Issued: 1997
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 242 p.
Language(s): English
Summary: A Social Distance Model was developed for this dissertation to illustrate the marginalization of the migrant farm workers in South Florida. The social distance indicators used in the Social Distance Model are: (1) income level, (2) education level, (3) use of the dominant language, (4) property ownership, (5) laws and legal rights, and (6) race and ethnicity. These indicators demonstrate the marginalization of farm workers. This marginalization results in the creation of an occupational subgroup vulnerable to pesticide exposure, lack of protection under the law, and health problems. The four research questions which are used to illustrate this theoretical model are: (1) do the demographics of the sample population represent a marginalized subculture vulnerable to exposure to environmental hazards? (2) is there a relationship between working in the fields in two South Florida counties and exposure to pesticides? (3) are the current federal and Florida laws which protect farm workers from exposure to pesticides being properly implemented? and (4) is there a relationship between the health of farm workers in two South Florida counties and their exposure to pesticides? A survey about pesticide exposure, health problems and laws and legal rights was used to gather data about farm workers in two South Florida counties. A face-to-face, closed and open-ended survey was conducted with farm workers at several migrant farm worker day care centers in Palm Beach and Indian River County, Florida. The results of the dissertation reveal that: the negative outcomes of the Social Distance Model, which are poverty, alienation, lack of skills, economic exploitation, lack of use of the dominant language, lack of information on laws and legal rights, and few choices and alternatives for employment and housing, provide an explanation for the farm workers' marginalization. As a result of their marginalization, farm workers are an occupational group vulnerable to pesticide exposure. Another finding of the study is that federal and state laws which are currently in place to protect the workers from pesticide exposure do not adequately protect the workers from exposure to harmful pesticides and farm workers are uninformed of the laws which exist to protect them from possible pesticide exposure. Several of the health problems farm workers noted match the symptoms of moderate and mild pesticide poisoning. The results of the study demonstrate that the farm workers are disadvantaged because the majority of the farm workers: earn a yearly wage that puts them below the poverty line, do not speak English, have a minimal education level, and are uninformed about the current laws pertaining to pesticide exposure. The combination of these findings leads this researcher to the conclusion that the migrant farm workers interviewed for this study are a vulnerable subgroup of the American population, at serious risk of exposure to environmental hazards. The study concludes with policy recommendations for Florida state officials and the federal government to change and better enforce the current laws pertaining to farm workers. These changes will help the implementation and enforcement of the current laws designed to protect farm workers from pesticide exposure. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
Identifier: 9780591453973 (isbn), 12513 (digitool), FADT12513 (IID), fau:9405 (fedora)
Note(s): Thesis (Ph.D.)--Florida Atlantic University, 1997.
Subject(s): Agricultural laborers--Florida
Environmental justice
Agricultural laborers--Health and hygiene--Law and legislation
Held by: Florida Atlantic University Libraries
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/12513
Sublocation: Digital Library
Use and Reproduction: Copyright © is held by the author with permission granted to Florida Atlantic University to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Use and Reproduction: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
Host Institution: FAU
Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.