To accelerate harvesting speeds, sugarcane companies will set large swaths of sugarcane fields on fire. Most burns average about 40 acres, but many can be much larger. The fire burns away parts of the sugarcane not needed for sugar processing. As it can be assumed, igniting such large amounts of plant life at once causes huge plumes of smoke to billow into the air and spread across the region, collecting most significantly in neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the sugarcane field. To add insult to injury, there exists a “green” method of harvesting for sugarcane that does not use burning, but sugar companies do not use it as it is not as cost effective for them.
Harm Caused by Sugarcane Pre-Harvest Burns
Pollutants that may be identified in the smoke and ash of sugarcane burns include:
- Particulate matter
- Volatile organic compounds
- Carbon monoxide
- Elemental carbon
There may be a number of known carcinogenic compounds identified, including but not limited to benzo[a]pyrene. Workers and residents in communities near sugarcane field burns are exposed to the ash and smoke in large quantities, putting them at serious risk of respiratory problems and other dangerous health conditions. Additionally, it is known that most sugar companies spray pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides on their crops, which pose as an heightened danger when burned.
In addition to health issues caused by sugarcane pre-harvest burns, property damage is also caused by this unsafe agricultural practice. Residents of neighborhoods near sugarcane fields in Florida report needing to frequently wash their homes and automobiles, which become permanently discolored due to ashen rain and smoke exposure.
Berman Law Group and our Florida class action attorneys are asking all residents in any area affected by or near burned sugarcane fields to call our law firm at (800) 375-5555. The more people who can bring together in a class action, the more powerful the plaintiff class will be. Together, we can all hold sugar companies accountable for negligent agricultural practices that unfairly put entire communities at risk.
We are holding the defending sugar companies accountable on various counts, such as:
- Strict liability for ultra-hazardous activity
- Trespass, such as real estate property value degradation
- Medical monitoring
- And more