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Extreme Heat Is Becoming More Dangerous for Farmworkers

Sweltering temperatures and humidity threaten the health of outdoor laborers, and there are few standards to protect them from working when it’s too hot.

Photograph: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

This story originally appeared on Mother Jones and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

In the fertile plains of Washington state’s Yakima Valley, maximum summer temperatures typically approach 90 Fahrenheit, meaning sweaty, potentially dangerous work for the people who harvest the region’s bounty: 77 percent of US-grown hops, a huge portion of our apples, and plenty of pears and cherries as well. But for the past two years, fierce heat waves have descended, making an uncomfortable job even more punishing. Starting on July 16, Yakima experienced eight straight days of triple-digit temperatures, peaking at a demonic 108 F, reached both on July 28 and ...

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