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Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Public meetings scheduled for pesticide rules

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries will hold public meetings in seven communities across the state during the next three weeks to gather information on a proposed regulation that could require blood testing for agricultural workers who handle certain pesticides.

To gain as much information as possible before developing a rule proposal, L&I will hold the meetings for growers, workers and other interested parties to learn and hear about their experiences, ideas and concerns with cholinesterase monitoring.

Pesticide licensees can receive two credits toward their recertification requirements from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) by attending one of the seven sessions being held around the state. Sign-up sheets will be available at the sessions for those wishing to receive credits.

Cholinesterase is a protein produced by the body to help control nerve function. Exposure to organophosphate and carbamate pesticides can interfere with the ability of cholinesterase to function. Monitoring cholinesterase levels in the blood could help identify and prevent overexposure by workers.

L&I has begun the rule-making process at the direction of the Washington Supreme Court following a successful lawsuit by farmworkers who were exposed to organophosphate and carbamate pesticides.

After concluding the information-gathering sessions, the tentative schedule calls for L&I to draft a proposed rule by late summer, hold public hearings in November and adopt the new rule in early 2003. The rule would take effect in 2004.

L&I will have Spanish-speaking staff at all of the meetings to help with translation. In addition, the July 16 meeting in Yakima will provide simultaneous interpretation of both English and Spanish. The information-gathering meetings, all to begin at 6 p.m., will be held as follows:

Mount Vernon - July 8, Skagit Valley Community College, 2405 E. College Way, Ford Hall F-101

Bellingham - July 9, Best Western Lakeway Inn, 714 Lakeway Dr., Fairhaven Room

Kennewick - July 15, Benton County PUD, 2721 West 10th Ave. , Auditorium

Yakima - July 16, West Coast Hotel at Yakima Center, 607 East Yakima Ave., Lower Terrace Rm

Moses Lake - July 24, Best Western Hallmark Inn, 3000 West Marina Dr., Sun Room

Wenatchee - July 25, West Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel, 201 N. Wenatchee Ave., Fuji Rooms 

Okanogan - July 29, Okanogan PUD, 1331 Second Ave. N., Auditorium

L&I staff will be available to answer questions and provide technical information on cholinesterase monitoring during the two-hour sessions.

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For media information, contact: 
Bill Ripple, L&I, 360-902-5407, ripp235@lni.wa.gov.

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