Emerging Issues

The SCCAHS Emerging Issues Program (EIP) works to identify new agricultural safety and health problems in the Southeast region and prioritize and address these issues by providing appropriate resources. The EIP also connects with all SCCAHS projects, cores, advisory boards, and other stakeholders to support their efforts on a variety of issues. 

Examples of emerging issues identified and addressed by the program include: 

  • Health status of temporary agricultural guestworkers.
  • Heat-related illness and kidney disease. 
  • Health impacts of sugarcane burning in Florida.
  • Revised Worker Protection Standard respirator requirements. 
  • Domestic violence and reproductive health of farmworker women.
  • Post-disaster housing and other needs in farmworker communities.

From April 2020 to the present, the EIP has worked with community-based, worker-focused organizations in their efforts to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and to build capacity around the disparate health impact the pandemic has had on these populations. EIP efforts have included organizing and sponsoring testing and vaccination initiatives; working with organizations to purchase and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE); developing culturally appropriate educational material; organizing informational sessions between medical experts and farmworkers; working with other Ag Centers on producing NIOSH guidance documents for the agricultural industry; presenting research on COVID-19 and farmworkers at professional conferences; and publishing research in professional journals. 

Read below for more information about partner organizations supported and the efforts of these organizations supported by SCCAHS.


Additional Resources

Cumulative SCCAHS-related EIP publications (2017-2021)

  • Houser M, Mac V, Smith D, Chicas R, Xiuhtecutli N, Flocks J, Elon L, Gamez Tansey M, Sands J, McCauley L, Hertzberg V. “Inflammation-Related Factors Identified as Biomarkers of Dehydration and Subsequent Acute Kidney Injury in Agricultural Workers.” Biological Research for Nursing doi: 10.1177/1099800421106070, 2021.
  • Lauzardo M, Kovacevich N, Dennis A, Myers P, Flocks J, Morris J. “An Outbreak of COVID-19 Among H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers.” American Journal of Public Health 111:571-573, 2021.
  • Chicas R, Xiuhtecutli N, Dickman N, Flocks J, Scammell M, Steenland K, Hertzberg V, McCauley L. “Cooling Interventions Among Agricultural Workers: Qualitative Field-Based Study.” Hispanic Health Care International 19:174-181, 2021.
  • Mac V, Elon L, Mix J, Tovar-Aguilar T, Flocks J, Economos E, Hertzberg V, McCauley L. “Risk Factors for Reaching Core Body Temperature Thresholds in Florida Agricultural Workers.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 63:395-402, 2021.
  • Mac V, Elon L, Smith D, Tovar-Aguilar T, Economos E, Flocks J, Hertzberg V, McCauley L. “A Modified Physiological Strain Index for Workplace-based Assessment of Heat Strain Experienced by Agricultural Workers.” American Journal of Industrial Medicine 64:258-265, 2021.
  • Monaghan P, Raskin K, Morera M, Tovar Aguilar JA, Mac V, Flocks J. “What the Agricultural Sector in Florida Needs to Know about Heat-Related Illness (HRI).” EDIS (5). https://doi.org/10.32473/edis-wc359-2020., 2020.
  • Flocks J. “The Potential Impact of COVID-19 on H-2A Agricultural Workers.” Journal of Agromedicine 25(4): 367-369, 2020.
  • Mix J, Elon L, Mac V, Flocks J, Economos J, Tovar-Aguilar A, Hertzberg V, McCauley LA. “Physical Activity and Work Activities in Florida Agricultural Workers.” American Journal of Industrial Medicine 62:1058-1067, 2019.
  • Chicas R, Mix J, Mac V, Flocks J, Dickman NE, Hertzberg V, McCauley L. “Chronic Kidney Disease Among Workers: A Review of the Literature.” Workplace Health and Safety 67:481-490, 2019. 
  • Flocks J, Tovar JA, Economos E, Mac V, Mutic A, Peterman K, McCauley L. “Lessons Learned from Data Collection as Health Screening in Underserved Farmworker Communities.” Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action 12:93-100, 2018.
  • Mix J, Elon L, Mac V, Flocks J, Economos E, Tovar-Aguilar AJ, Stover-Hertzberg V, McCauley LA. “Hydration Status, Kidney Function and Kidney Injury in Florida Agricultural Workers.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 60: e253-e260, 2018.
  • Mutic A, Mix J, Elon L, Mutic N, Economos J, Flocks J, Tovar-Aguilar JA, McCauley L. “Classification of Heat-Related Illness Symptoms Among Florida Farmworkers.” Journal of Nursing Scholarship 50:1-9, 2017.
  • Runkle J, Flocks J, Economos J, Dunlop A. “A Systematic Review of Mancozeb as a Reproductive and Developmental Hazard.” Environment International, 99:29-42, 2017.
  • Mac V, Tovar-Aguilar J, Flocks J, Economos J, Hertzberg V, McCauley L. “Heat Exposure in Central Florida Fernery Workers: Results of a Feasibility Study.” Journal of Agromedicine 22(12): 89-99, 2017.
  • Hertzberg V, Mac V, Elon L, Mutic N, Mutic A, Peterman K, Tovar-Aguilar JA, Economos E, Flocks J, McCauley L. “Novel Analytic Methods Needed for Real-Time Continuous Core Body Temperature Data.” Western Journal of Nursing Research. 39(1): 95–111, 2017.

Cumulative SCCAHS-related EIP presentations

  • “An Overview of Farmworker Issues in a COVID Environment” Presentation for Class XI of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute, Gainesville, FL, August 17, 2021.
  • “Facing the Sun: Farmworkers and Heat Impacts” University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Symposium, Online, May 5, 2021.
  • “Essential Workers” (panel) with Claudia Polsky, Mike Wilson, Estella Cisneros, and Fernando Torres. University of California Berkeley Environmental Law Quarterly Symposium, Online, April 16, 2021.
  • “An Outbreak of COVID-19 among H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers in Florida” (lightning talk) Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America Safety Summit, Online, March 22-24, 2021. https://www.accelevents.com/e/ASHCASafetySummit.
  • “Forgotten Essential Workers: How Farmworkers Face More Environmental Justice Issues Amidst the Pandemic” (panel) with Kent Pinkerton, Fernando Serrano, Guadalupe Luna, and Margarita Garcia. University of California Davis School of Law Symposium, Online, February 25, 2021.
  • “Southeastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (SCCAHS)” Environmental Protection Agency’s Virtual Farmworker Community Visit, Online, October 28, 2020.
  • “Occupational Pesticide Exposure and Pregnancy Health in Vulnerable Workers” Florida Local Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, Online, October 16, 2020. 
  • “Climate Change and Health: Understanding and Action” (panel) with JG Morris and L Chacos. League of Woman Voters of Alachua County, Online, August 26, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?extid=KsGIX3ufYDDYjjzZ&v=344960079868984&ref=watch_permalink
  • “Occupational Pesticide Exposure and Pregnancy Health in Vulnerable Workers” (invited speaker). University of South Florida Sunshine Education and Research Center’s State of the Science Meeting: Pregnant at Work, Clearwater, FL, December 4, 2019.
  • “Prevention of Heat Stress among Farmworkers” (roundtable discussion moderator) Western Agriculture Safety & Health Conference, Seattle, WA, August 7-9, 2019. 
  • “Worker Justice in the Food System,” (panel) with M Pollans, J Chacon, and T Kateri Hernandez.  Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, January 2-6, 2019.
  • “Southeastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (SCCAHS): Current Projects at the News NIOSH Center for Agricultural Safety and Health,” (poster) with P Monaghan, A Tovar-Aguilar, and JG Morris. American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, November 10-15, 2018.
  • “Pesticides and Health: What We Need to Know” (panel) 19th National Our Community, Our Health Town Hall, University of Florida Health Street, Gainesville, FL, August 29, 2018. https://mediasite.video.ufl.edu/Mediasite/Play/e7e8e15cc65c462b93bfb0c1d22da2371d
  • “The Environmental and Social Injustice of Farmworker Pesticide Exposure” (online guest lecture) Environmental Justice class, University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, TX, July 11, 2018.
  • “Current Occupational Heat and Pesticide Research in Southeastern Coastal States,” (poster) with J Grzywacz, A Tovar-Aguilar, L McCauley, V Mac, R Chicas, C Vulpe, S Roberts, and N Denslow. NIDDK-NIEHS Workshop on Chronic Kidney Diseases in Agricultural Communities, Bethesda, MD, June 25-26, 2018. https://www.sccahs.org/index.php/2018/07/11/joan-flocks-presents-on-behalf-of-sccahs-at-national-conference/
  • “Acute Kidney Injury in Florida Agricultural Workers,” (poster) with J Mix, L Elon, V Mac, E Economos, A Tovar-Aguilar, V Hertzberg, and L McCauley. NIDDK-NIEHS Workshop on Chronic Kidney Diseases in Agricultural Communities, Bethesda, MD, June 25-26, 2018.
  • “Work Intensity and Work Tasks in Florida Agricultural Workers,” (poster) with J Mix, L Elon, E Economos, A Tovar-Aguilar, V Hertzberg, and L McCauley. NIDDK-NIEHS Workshop on Chronic Kidney Diseases in Agricultural Communities, Bethesda, MD, June 25-26, 2018.
  • “A Web of Immigration and Labor Regulation and How it Binds Farmworkers,” with A Tovar. American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, April 10-14, 2018.
  • “Southeastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (SCCAHS): Current Projects at the Newest NIOSH Center for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education, and Prevention,” (poster) with P Monaghan and A Tovar-Aguilar. 2018 North American Agricultural Safety Summit, Scottsdale, AZ, February 21-23, 2018.
  • “Immigration, Farm Labor, and Food Justice” University of Florida, Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations, Race Matters in the News Seminar Series, Gainesville, FL, November 9, 2017. 
  • “Classification of Heat-Related Illness Symptoms among Florida Farmworkers” with A Mutic, J Mix, L Elon, J Tovar, E Economos, and L McCauley. American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, November 4-8, 2017.
  • “Community Based Research on Heat-Related Illness in Florida Farmworkers” with A Tovar-Aguilar and E Economos. American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, November 4-7, 2017. 
  • “Immigration Policy and Agricultural Labor in Florida” University of Florida, Department of Agricultural Education and Communications Seminar Series, Gainesville, FL, October 27, 2017.
  • “When Disaster Strikes, Inequality Lays Bare Amid the Wreckage” interview on The Takeaway, PRI and WNYC radio, September 14, 2017. https://www.wnyc.org/story/when-disaster-strikes-inequality-lays-bare-amid-wreckage/

Key Personnel

Joan Flocks
Emerging Issues Program Director
Joan Flocks
University of Florida

Partner Organizations

Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc. (FWAF)
The Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF – https://floridafarmworkers.org/), established in 1983, is a community-based non-profit with more than 10,000 Haitian, Hispanic, and African American members and five offices in the state of Florida. Their goal is to work with farmworkers...
Florida Institute for Community Studies, Inc.
The Florida Institute for Community Studies (FICS – https://www.ficsinc.org/) partners with communities across Florida to help them achieve their goals through research, education, training, social services, and the arts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, SCCAHS support FICS work in the Wimauma...
Franklin’s Promise Coalition
Franklin’s Promise Coalition (https://franklinspromisecoalition.wildapricot.org/) is a group of organizations and individuals working together to address community issues in and around Franklin County of North Florida. The group sponsors a number of projects, including the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coasts,...
Hispanic Health Initiatives
Hispanic Health Initiatives (HHI – http://www.hhi2001.org/) is a 20+-year-old nonprofit that addresses the unmet health needs of Hispanics and other medically disadvantaged populations of Central Florida through the efforts of volunteers. It has a specific goal of educating these populations,...
Rural Women’s Health Project
The Rural Women’s Health Project (RWHP – https://www.rwhp.org/) serves immigrant farmworkers and rural communities in North Florida by strengthening their understanding of critical health, occupational, and family issues. With support from SCCAHS, RWHP worked with Madres Sin Fronteras to conduct...
Southeast Georgia Communities Project, Inc.
The Southeast Georgia Communities Project (SEGCP – https://segcp.org/) is located in 3 of the 4 poorest counties in Southeast Georgia with high concentrations of LatinX residents working mainly as agriculture workers. The mission of the organization is to serve these...

SCCAHS Region

Email: sccagsafety@gmail.com
Outreach: ashleynmcleod@ufl.edu

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