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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


GARCIA, A.M.; RAMIREZ, A.  and  LACASANA, M.. Pesticide application practices in agricultural workers. Gac Sanit [online]. 2002, vol.16, n.3, pp.236-240. ISSN 0213-9111.

Objective: We describe the sociodemographic characteristics and determinants of pesticide exposure in agricultural workers applying pesticides. Methods: The workers selected were included in a case-control study carried out in the Autonomous Community of Valencia in Spain. Contact was made by telephone and individuals who had been involved in agricultural work during the relevant period of exposure were interviewed face-to-face to gain information on the following determinants of pesticide exposure: crops and periods worked, mixing of products, treatment equipment, participation in the washing of equipment, use of personal protection during the treatments and knowledge of the risks of pesticide exposure. Results: Eighty-nine workers, aged between 16 and 46 years old, were included. Most of the interviewees had primary education or less. Pesticide treatments were mostly applied on high crops (82%), with manual equipment (61%) and throughout the year (45%). Workers frequently performed tasks involving additional exposure to pesticides (mixing chemicals, 66%, or washing equipment, 60%). Sixty-five percent of the workers used no personal protection or used it defectively. No differences were found in personal protection use according to age, family income or education. Most of the workers (90%) reported knowledge of the health risks of pesticide exposure and 21% of them rated the risk as null. Conclusions: Workers involved in pesticide application use personal protection measures very defectively. There is a clear need to develop specific prevention programs for these workers. The determinants of pesticide exposure in agricultural workers described in this study should be properly assessed in epidemiological studies of the health effects of pesticides on agricultural workers.

Keywords : Pesticides; Agriculture; Occupational exposure; Occupational health.

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