The average picker now experiences 21 days each year when the daily heat index — a mix of air temperature and humidity — would exceed workplace safety standards.
The global pandemic has put a focus on essential workers, those we rely on for basic services. Workers who pick crops, from strawberries to apples to nuts, already face harsh conditions harvesting in fields during summer harvest months. Those conditions will worsen significantly over the coming decades.
A new study from the University of Washington and Stanford University, published online in Environmental Research Letters, looks at temperature increases in counties across the United States where crops are grown. It also looks at different strategies the industry could adopt to protect workers’ health.
“Studies of climate change and agriculture have traditionally focused on crop yield projections, especially staple crops like corn and wheat,” said lead author Michelle Tigchelaar, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University who did the work while at the UW. “This study asks what global warming means for the health of agricultural workers picking fruits and vegetables.”
Continue reading at University of Washington
Image via University of Washington