Dan and Jim work on a broccoli farm. One day, after the field had been treated with methyl bromide, a fumigant, Dan remembered that he needed to make a simple repair on the irrigation system in the field. Although it had only been about an hour since the fumigation, Jim told Dan it would probably be safe to go in for a couple of minutes.
Dan entered the field and spent about ten minutes fixing the irrigation system. He then continued with his other tasks around the farm. Dan began to have a headache and felt a little dizzy but he didn't think anything of it.
Shortly afterwards, Dan and Jim got in their truck and started driving. By then, Dan's head was spinning and pounding. Then he suddenly began to shake and vomit. Jim rushed him to the emergency clinic.
At the clinic, Dan asked the doctor why he became so sick. After all, he was only in the broccoli field for a few minutes. The doctor told Dan that methyl bromide is highly toxic. That means even small exposures to methyl bromide can cause sickness; they can even cause death. The doctor said he entered the field too soon after the treatment.
Dan began to wonder how long he should have waited to enter the field after the fumigation.
The doctor suggested that Dan call the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 800-858-7378 to find out more information about working in a field treated with a pesticide.
The specialist told Dan that he could have been exposed to methyl bromide by breathing vapors leaking from the tarps. The specialist explained that Dan put himself at risk by entering the field without checking for the Restricted Entry Interval (REI). The REI is the amount of time workers have to wait before entering the field after pesticide treatments. In fact, the REI is a part of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which is designed to protect workers like Dan.
Dan learned that the REI for the product used was 48 hours. The specialist listed three places to find the REI and other precautions for pesticides used in the field.
Dan realized how important it is to follow posted information and label instructions. He decided that he would check the bulletin board every day before working in or around the broccoli fields.
Pesticide product labels include specific instructions for protecting workers. Always read and follow the label directions carefully. For information on exceptions or state-specific requirements, contact your state pesticide regulatory office.