Work and health profile of farmers exposed to organophosphates, carbamates and pyrethroids

Author(s): Jinky Leilanie Lu, Katherine Cosca

This study tried to look into the most prevalent health problems that may be associated with pesticide exposure among farmers in the largest vegetable producing region in the Philippines, and to identify common work practices of farmers in relation to pesticide application. Using cluster sampling based on communities and zones and with significance level at p=0.05, 400 farmers were chosen for the study. Tools used consisted of 1) survey questionnaire; 2) physical examination guide for toxicological and neurologic assessments.; and 3) blood extraction of for blood cholinesterase, complete blood count and serum creatinine. Majority of the farmers used pyrethroids (70.3%), organophosphates (67.5%). and carbamates (56.8%). 41.8% had abnormal clinical diagnosis. The top three abnormal physical findings included ear problems (23.8%), oropharyngeal swelling and inflammation (21.3%) and eye problems (17%). 9.2% had abnormal neurologic exams. 17.7% had abnormal hemoglobin values, indicating anemia. 93 (23.3%) of the blood cholinesterase results were abnormal indicating organophosphate poisoning. Statistical analysis showed association of abnormal neurologic examination with certain unsafe work practices. This study has shown the health risks of pesticide exposure. It is imperative that local government push for better regulation on the use of pesticides targeting not only farmers, but also manufacturers and traders of pesticides.

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