Agricultural commissioners in two Central Valley counties have launched investigations into two apparent chemical releases that sickened dozens of fieldworkers over the last nine days.
The latest incident took place in Fresno County on Thursday morning when a group of farmworkers picking nectarines began feeling sick after several pesticides had been sprayed on a nearby field. That came nine days after several other farmworkers in Tulare County reported feeling ill at the end of their shift, possibly because of a chemical drift.
At least 32 workers complained of symptoms in the two cases, although scores of others working alongside them may have been exposed to chemicals as well.
Investigators are specifically trying to determine if a pesticide sprayed on a nearby field drifted to the field where the workers got sick.
The incident on Thursday took place in the town of Kerman, west of the city of Fresno. Some 29 workers complained of symptoms that included vomiting, headaches and itchy eyes and throats, according to Stace Leoni, the county's deputy agricultural commissioner. Three of the employees were hospitalized, she added.
Leoni said the chemicals that were sprayed in the vicinity of the workers included Nealta miticide, Zylo insecticide and summer oil, a substance that helps the chemicals stick to the leaves of crops.