Central Florida farmers feeling the heat

Extreme heat, humidity affects outdoor workers

APOPKA, Fla – As high temperatures affect farmworkers in Central Florida, the Farmworker Association of Florida calls the state to immediately create an emergency heat standard to protect all outdoor workers, according to a news release.

Extreme heat and humidity are posing a health threat to farmworkers exposing them to dehydration, heat stroke, heat stress and long-tern kidney damage, according to the FWAF.

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The association said, the “essential workers” are vulnerable and disproportionately at risk since they are exposed to temperatures in the high 90s, with 50% and above humidity.

Central Florida has farmers working in nurseries, tree farms, greenhouses and other crops. But especially in Apopka, which is called the “Indoor Foliage Capital” of the world for having many greenhouses where people work in the production and packing of ornamental plants, according to a news release.

The FWAF said there are oftentimes workers who are in direct sunlight or in enclosed greenhouses with no cooling air conditioning which makes them feel exhausted.

“We know that last summer was one of the hottest on record,” said Sara Mangan, Climate Justice Organizer for the Farmworker Association of Florida. “We are already experiencing extreme heat in 2022 that impacts the health disproportionately of our most vulnerable community members — our farmworkers, but also roofers, landscapers and construction workers in Central Florida, most of whom are people of color. We need protections for outdoor workers whose work we all depend upon now.”

The association said, even though they are offering heat stress training for farmworkers to recognize the symptoms of heat exposure and how to protect themselves, the temperatures keep rising.

The FWAF said that during a scientific-research with Emory University they found that most farmworkers in the study experienced dehydration at the end of the work day and reached a core body temperature above the CDC’s recommendation of 100.4 degrees and one-third suffered acute kidney injury on at least one of the three days they were involved in the study.

For more information, contact the FWAF at 407-886-5151.

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Maria joined ClickOrlando.com in June 2022.