Protect Yourself with Integrated Pest Management

If there is one thing that hasn’t changed through the centuries, it’s the battle between pests and farmers. Stories of whole crops being decimated in the blink of eye are recorded in every culture.

Today, there are incredible resources to help with this age-old problem, including one housed right here in Davis – the University of California Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) program. IPM provides scientifically based information on how to effectively deal with pests whether they are natural or exotic or in urban, agricultural, wildland or natural areas.

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Dr. Jim Farrar, director of UC IPM, recently visited WCAHS and gave a seminar talk on “IPM and Agricultural Worker Safety.” Pesticides are extensively used in farming. In 2014 alone, California registered 2.5 million pesticide applications. Agricultural workers are especially vulnerable to getting exposed to pesticides when directly handling them, such as during mixing or spraying, and when walking through fields and encountering pesticide drift in the air and residue on plants.

UC IPM provides both online and instructor led courses on the newest advances in pest management as well as basic safety skills with pesticides. Farrar stressed that continuing pesticide safety education is key to protecting agricultural workers and their families from harm. For example, workers can learn how to correctly use personal protective equipment when applying pesticides to avoid exposure and why it is important to wash work clothes separately from household clothes.

IPM also provides online information on how to deal with common pests found in the home, on our pets and even on us! For example, IPM has advice on managing ants, rats, lice and fleas. Farrar emphasized that while it is often difficult to eliminate pests 100%, they can be actively managed and controlled with the PAMS approach:

             Prevent pests from infesting.

             Avoid conditions that are conducive to pest damage.

             Monitor for pests and properly identify them.

             Suppress pests with appropriate tactics.

The PAMS approach works because it takes the long-term view of controlling pests. You can find detailed tips on how to manage all types of pests at the UC-IPM website.

Farm Workers Help Design 4 New Heat Illness Prevention Videos

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The California Heat Illness Prevention Study (CHIPS) is proud to present 4 new Spanish-language educational videos on:

  1.            Heat and Humidity Index
  2.            Importance of Water, Shade, and Rest
  3.            Symptoms of Heat Illness
  4.            What to Do In Case of an Emergency

The videos are each 2 to 3 minutes long and based on feedback from farm worker focus groups that said they would prefer watching short, informative videos on heat illness rather than receive written pamphlets.

The videos feature real farm workers and CHIPS staff acting out symptoms of heat illness, such as dizziness and fainting, while working in a field. The videos explain the first signs of heat illness and what to do, as well as the importance of drinking water instead of soda, energy drinks, coffee, and beer. Many workers are unaware that consuming these drinks to ‘cool down’ is actually counterproductive because they have high sugar levels and some drinks contain chemicals that give a false sense of energy (caffeine rush). The videos also explain what to do in an emergency.

At the end of each video, 3 short review questions are presented so viewers can review the information and supervisors can discuss the video with their workers.

You can access the videos at http://chips.ucdavis.edu/publications.php

Welcome to the WCAHS Blog

THE WESTERN CENTER FOR AGRICULTURAL HEALTH AND SAFETY (WCAHS) at UC DAVIS has made strides in areas of research, prevention/intervention and education/outreach. It is uniquely situated to address and affect the health and safety of farmers, farm family members, hired farm workers and their families because of its co-location with the UC Davis Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, its Colleges of Agriculture and Engineering, and the California’s Central Valley, one of Western agriculture’s most intensive and productive regions. WCAHS has taken a leadership role in addressing western agricultural health and safety issues, including health among migrant and seasonal (hired) farm workers, ergonomics of labor-intensive crop work, respiratory hazards in dry-climate farming, health of women and children in agriculture and pesticide safety. The public (general and agricultural) have been recipients of educational programs. WCAHS’ electronic communications (newsletter, list server) have expanded educational efforts of the center internationally.