This article reports on the serious health risks faced by children who work in tobacco fields. Headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, and muscle aches and pains are among common complaints by childern interviewed in eastern North Carolina tobacco fields. Exposure to pesticides is known to cause cancer, brain damage, and reproductive problems; and exposure to nicotine, absorbed through the skin by wet tobacco, can cause “green tobacco sickness” an illness more likely to affect children than adults. Mostly poor and Hispanic, these children are not currently afforded the same protections as other working children. The author calls for Congress to amend U.S. child labor to law to provide the same protection for children working in agriculture as for children working in other environments.
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