BOISE — Federal regulations intended to protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure and drift seemed to fail to protect a group of Idaho farmworkers last year. Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a series of changes that advocates say would weaken those protections.

In November, the EPA announced plans for “narrow updates” to federal worker protection laws that govern safe pesticide spray, opening the proposed changes to public comment. Most of the changes relate to the Application Exclusion Zone — the part of the EPA Worker Protection Standard dictating where pesticide applicators are allowed to spray when people are nearby.