63 farmworkers treated after insecticide sprayed in nearby field sickens some

Hazardous materials personnel work to decontaminate farmworkers after a possible pesticide exposure.
(Tulare County Fire Department)

More than five dozen farmworkers were treated by hazmat teams in a field in Tulare County on Tuesday after a pesticide was sprayed at nearby farm and at least three of the workers became sick.

The Tulare County Fire Department’s hazardous materials team responded to a vineyard near the 4800 block of Avenue 408, where farmworkers reported smelling a strong odor after a nearby peach orchard was sprayed with the insecticide hexythiazox, authorities said.

The winds suddenly changed about 11 a.m. and could have blown the chemical in the direction of the vineyard, Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner Tom Tucker said. After three workers became nauseated and experienced chest pains, they called authorities.

At least 63 farmworkers may have been affected, and a hazardous materials team was called to decontaminate the workers by rinsing them off in the vineyard, Tucker said.


Officials are investigating the incident and will inspect nearby fields to determine whether the workers were actually exposed to any harmful chemicals, Tucker said. However, “there is no actual spray drift we are able to ascertain at this moment,” he said, and it’s possible the workers simply smelled the chemical’s odor.

The condition of the three men who were taken to the hospital was not immediately known. Effects from hexythiazox, which is a common insecticide, would be minimal and short term, Tucker said.

The Tulare County Fire Department could not immediately be reached for comment.


Twitter: @r_valejandra

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