Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Heat on the Rise: Investigating the Increasingly Hazardous Working Conditions of the Blueberry Industry Public Deposited

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  • The agricultural industry is becoming increasingly hazardous for field workers as temperatures become more extreme. As the demand for labor-intensive fresh produce increases in the United States, more work is demanded of our agricultural laborers, who in turn face increasing rates of exposure to high temperatures. Blueberries are an example of a labor- intensive crop and offer a window into increasing exposure within the agricultural industry. This study examines the changing heat-related impacts on the blueberry industry to determine if agricultural laborers are being exposed to increasingly hazardous conditions. Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) data, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cropscape data, and USDA Weekly Shipment data are synthesized to evaluate trends in hot days, blueberry demand, harvest windows, and person days of hazardous heat exposure during harvest. These trends indicate that conditions are becoming increasingly hazardous, as seen in the standard harvest season experiencing increases in days above high temperature thresholds. To account for and protect agricultural laborers from this increasing exposure to hazardous conditions, several mitigation strategies are discussed as possibilities for implementation are explored. Strategies discussed include expansion of worker safety training, implementation of supportive infrastructure, and increased pay scales. While this research quantifies heat-related impacts to agricultural laborers, further investigation is needed about compounding factors of exposure, such as humidity and chemical pesticide use, to make policy recommendations for the agriculture sector.

Date Awarded
  • 2023-04-18
Academic Affiliation
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2023-04-21
Resource Type
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