Child Advocates Warn of Risks to Child Tobacco Workers
Recently, researchers for Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, set out to investigate the impact of working in tobacco fields on children. The results, as reported by Business Week, are startling.
Child Workers Exposed to Nicotine
Researchers found child tobacco workers in fields in 40 counties spread across four different states and spoke with a total of 141 child tobacco workers between the ages of seven and 17. As many as three-quarters of those interviewed reported symptoms often associated with acute nicotine poisoning including vomiting, head aches and skin rashes.
Among tobacco workers, these symptoms are often referred to as “Green Tobacco Poisoning.” Nicotine can be absorbed through the skin, especially when leaves are wet. Research has indicated that nonsmoking tobacco workers have similar levels of nicotine in their bodies as smokers do.
Children also reported being exposed to dangerous pesticides while crops were sprayed. Exposure to these chemicals had been linked to long-term neurological effects.
Child Agricultural Workers
Over 736,000 U.S. children work in agriculture. Many of them are children who live on farms. There are some restrictions on child agriculture work, including:
- Children under 16 are prohibited from working in hazardous jobs.
- Children under 14 must obtain parental permission.
- Children under 12 are only allowed to work on small farms.