SALINAS — The Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office is investigating an incident of possible exposure of farmworkers to pesticides.

On June 22, 2017, at about 4:30 a.m., a Tanimura and Antle celery transplant crew of 18 people began working on the Harden Ranch just south of Salinas. After working for about an hour, some crew members began feeling nausea and had headaches, and one person vomited.

The crew left the area and all were taken to Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, which immediately called a code triage, activated a command center and deployed a mobile decontamination trailer. All the workers were decontaminated, treated and released.

“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.”

The Agricultural Commissioner’s office was notified of the incident at 8:30 a.m. and investigators were sent to the hospital to interview all the crew members. Clothing worn by the crew was obtained so it can be tested for pesticide residues.

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

The Agricultural Commissioner will work with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and complete this priority investigation.

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