Ag Commissioner Office Investigates possible insecticide exposure

18 farmworkers sickened

SALINAS, Calif. - More than a dozen farm workers from the T&A celery transplant crew went to the emergency room  and complained about feeling dizziness, nausea, and stomach pain after working in the fields Thursday. 

The Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System said 18 patients came in to the hospital around 6:50 a.m and suffered from possible insecticide exposure. 

The 18 people crew had been working on the Harden Ranch just south of Salinas. After working for about an hour some crew members felt sick. 

A supervisor from the agriculture company which employed the workers told the SVMHS the possible chemical exposed was Methomyl, also known as Lannate. 

The emergency department immediately activated a command center and deployed a mobile decontamination trailer. 

“We immediately called a Code Triage,” said Jeremy Handland, RN, Clinical Manager Emergency Department. “We activated our command center and the staff worked extremely well together to treat the patients and make sure all of our patients needs were met – from the decontamination process and treatment to having them be in a comfortable area and having something to eat.” 

Investigators with the Monterey County Agriculture Commissioners Office collected the farmworkers clothing so it can be tested for pesticide residue. 

The ag commission will do further investigation to determine what pesticides the workers may have been exposed to. Investigators said at this time there is no obvious source of exposure. Two nearby fields were treated at about 10 p.m. the night before. Pesticides used include Lannate, Coragen, Movento, Pounce, Actara, Fulfill. The fungicides Revus and Previcur were also applied to one field. 

The Agricultural Commissioner will work with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation on the investigation. 

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