Human Rights and Chemical Exposure

Viewing pesticide exposures, especially exposures against our will, through an ethics and human rights lens helps underscore and validate the clear sense of injustice felt by those who discover that others have chosen, often without informing anyone ahead of time, to expose them, their families and their property to chemical pesticides against their will.

These vulnerable persons know that their fundamental right to security of person has been violated. Mothers who suffer spray exposures know viscerally that their and their children’s rights to special protections have been abridged.

Human rights norms are not arbitrary. They are ethical standards recognized by citizens in our country and by peoples around the world as moral duties and protections that everyone should be able to expect from their governments. If governments, or businesses regulated by governments, violate these norms, they are violating formally recognized standards of justice.

Human rights norms represent basic moral minimums, a moral floor beneath which state and state-regulated behaviors must not sink. If civil laws represent hard legal boundaries outside of which certain behaviors are not legally permissible, human rights standards represent hard ethical boundaries outside of which certain behaviors are not morally permissible.

Beyond Toxics is committed to bringing to the foreground the ethics and human rights dimension of pesticide exposures. We seek to give voice to those who have been adversely impacted.

MORE resources:

Recommended Books

  • Kerns, Thomas A, Environmentally Induced Illnesses: Ethics, Risk Assessment and Human Rights, McFarland & Company, 2001.
  • Kravchenko, Svitlana and Bonine, John, Human Rights and the Environment, Carolina Academic Press, 2008.
  • Picolotti, Romina and Jorge Daniel Taillant, Linking Human Rights and the Environment, University of Arizona Press, 2003.
  • Woods, Kerri, Human Rights and Environmental Sustainability, Edward Elgar Publishers, 2010
  • Boyd, David, The Environmental Rights Revolution: A Global Study of Constitutions, Human Rights, and the Environment, University of British Columbia Press, 2011

Environment and Human Rights (PHIL 220) – taught by Dr. Tom Kerns through North Seattle Community College


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