Tuesday, May 21 2013 5:08 PM EDT2013-05-21 21:08:35 GMT
Some folks in South Georgia frantically tried to get in touch with loved ones who live near the destruction in Oklahoma. Leesburg's Wendy Mathis has a brother who lives in Oklahoma City and works inMore >>
Some folks in South Georgia frantically tried to get in touch with loved ones who live near the destruction in Oklahoma. Leesburg's Wendy Mathis has a brother who lives in Oklahoma City and works in Bethany, just 10 miles north of Moore. Albany native Liz Barfield recently relocated to a city nearby Moore, Oklahoma.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 5:04 PM EDT2013-05-21 21:04:27 GMT
The Lakeland Police Department is looking for a new police chief. Chief Jeff Harrison resigned Friday after nearly three years in the position. City officials say he's taking a higher paying job in NorthMore >>
The Lakeland Police Department is looking for a new police chief. More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 4:57 PM EDT2013-05-21 20:57:11 GMT
A Valdosta man born and raised in Moore, Oklahoma says his family and friends there are all okay. He grew up just two miles from the hardest hit area of town. Todd McCawley spent the first 17 years ofMore >>
A Valdosta man born and raised in Moore, Oklahoma says his family and friends there are all okay. He grew up just two miles from the hardest hit area of town.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 4:28 PM EDT2013-05-21 20:28:18 GMT
One south Georgia superintendent says his school system is finally moving in the right direction financially. The Decatur County Board of Education unanimously voted to reduce the number of furlough daysMore >>
One south Georgia superintendent says his school system is finally moving in the right direction financially.More >>
TIFTON, GA (WALB) - Vegetables have been grown in Georgia for thousands of years and recently farmers have turned to chemicals to help improve their yields.
But a new regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency has changed the procedure used to handle those chemicals.
And that will make vegetable farmers like Russell Greene take some time out of the fields this week. And he has a busy week ahead of him.
"We've got a machine that's laying down the black plastic," he said.
Underneath that plastic will go eggplant seeds. But right now, he's not working in the field; he's being fitted for a mask. And he seems to be adjusting to it well.
"It's fine. I don't have no problem with it," he said.
For a good crop, growers like Greene have to use chemicals. But while the fumigants under the plastic sheets are effective, they can have some nasty side effects. So the Environmental Protection Agency recently changed the rules involving the use of those chemicals.
That's why Greene spent his early afternoon getting fitted for a mask. But that's not the only thing that's changed.
Stanley Culpepper, an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia Tifton campus said, "the fumigant management plan has to be completed. Now what the fumigant management plan does is that basically documents every step in the fumigant process of a grower fumigating, from two weeks before you fumigate to a week or so after you fumigate."
Farmers also have to go through a multiple step process to get certified to handle chemicals. There's a questionnaire to ensure that people working with the chemicals don't have any pre-existing health issues. For some, the next step is the spirometry test.
Deanna Sanders from Worksmart Occupational Health said that it's, "a test where a person blows into a machine, and it actually tests their lung function. Obviously, if someone is going to wear a respirator they're going to have to have a good lung function."
But the most important step is making sure that the mask is a good fit.
"We determine if the respirator will fit properly to their face to provide protection," said Sanders.
But there is a cost involved, and it could be more than $2000 per farm. According to the EPA, the extra cost is worth it for the workers who have to deal with the chemicals at planting time.
Culpepper said, "the overall objective is to make everybody safer."
For their part the farmers want to follow the law, even if the masks are going to take a bit of getting used to.
Greene said, "I think I got it down pretty pat. Just get it down close to my face - to my nose."
And with no new chemicals coming to fields in the near future, more vegetable farmers around South Georgia will be looking like scuba divers - and spending extra money to grow vegetables - in the years to come.
Farmers who have to get the masks can call their local doctor's office to see if they can get them certified. You can reach the Worksmart Clinic by clicking here.
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