Heat exposure of farmworkers in the hand-harvested fields in Alabama, the US

Authors: Connor Y.H. Wu*, Department of Geospatial Informatics, Troy University
Topics: Environmental Science, Hazards and Vulnerability, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Climate change, heat exposure, farmworkers, heat waves
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Farmworkers are vulnerable to the extreme heat in the hand-harvested fields. This study investigated whether the farmworkers’ heat exposure was underestimated using the meteorological data from weather stations. Methodologically, we used temperature loggers (i.e., Maxim Integrated iButton® devices, model# DS1923) to record hourly air temperature in different crop fields (i.e., sweet potatoes, tomatoes, sweet corn, and watermelons) during the hand-harvested period in 2020 in Troy, AL, then compared them with the air temperature data from the nearest weather stations (from the National Climate Data Center Surface Data). We also set up another temperature logger in the nearby urban area, Montgomery, AL, to test if the air temperature difference between the weather stations and the temperature logger would change from the rural to urban. Our preliminary results show that higher air temperatures were reported by temperature logger, compared with those from the weather stations in the day-time in rural and urban areas. It suggests farmworkers would experience a hotter working environment than they knew from the weather stations. Findings will help to develop heatwave warning systems and interventions to minimize heat exposure of farmworkers efficiently.

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