This policy brief was prepared by the Center for Worker Health at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.
Water is the essence of human life. It is part of every cell, and is vital for every function of our body. The World Health Organization has declared that safe water is a basic human right. Migrant farmworkers in the United States are at increased risk for illness and injuries, including those that result from consuming unsafe drinking water. The quality of drinking water was studied in 181 migrant farmworker camps in eastern North Carolina from June through October, 2010.
One-third (61) of the camps failed standard tests for drinking water safety. Bacteria usually found in human and animal waste were found in the water samples collected at these camps. This contamination poses a risk to the health of farmworkers and to those living in surrounding communities. Changes are needed to secure safe water in migrant farmworker camps, including water monitoring in more camps, stronger enforcement, and changes to regulations, such as testing water during occupancy.