Article

Health Effects of Pesticide Exposure among Filipino Rice Farmers 1

The Applied Anthropologist 01/2008; 40(28).

ABSTRACT This article discusses the acute and chronic health effects of pesticide exposure among Filipino rice farmers. Data were collected from 50 farmers during 2002 and 2003 using a semi-structured questionnaire to elicit demographic information, various aspects of farming life, types and extent of pesticide use, exposure means, and self-reported acute and chronic illness experiences. Study participants had been farming for 20 years and applying an average of four to six pesticides approximately three times a year. The most common acute health problems reported by farmers were fatigue (52.0%), dizziness (50.0%), and body pain (32.0%). Farmers reported 43 different types of chronic health-related symptoms which were categorized as neurological (noted by 98.0% of farmers), dermal (90.0%), systemic (88.0%), respiratory (88.0%), ophthalmic (82.0%), gastrointestinal/renal (80.0%), and cardiovascular (56.0%). Chronic health problems were significantly lower for farmers who sold emptied pesticide containers (B=-3.479, p=0.01), for those with higher annual household incomes (B=-0.000, p=0.01), and for those who had attained vocational training compared to elementary school alone (B=6.101, p=0.02). Please see six tables of data following the article's text.

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    ABSTRACT: Laboratory studies and case reports of accidental exposure to large amounts of chemicals indicate that there are immediate and long‐term negative health consequences of exposure to agricultural chemicals. Logically, the consequences of chronic low‐level exposure also should be negative. Establishing a connection, however, between the more usual (chronic, low‐level) exposure experienced by farmworkers and health outcomes using epidemiological methods has been difficult. In this article we examine the reasons why this has been difficult, using specific examples from our ongoing research in rural North Carolina. We argue that because of the diverse nature of farming systems in the United States and the social organization of farm work, the combination of social‐science methods for establishing the patterns of exposure and for devising appropriate measures with epidemiological methods for linking exposure to outcomes may provide the best methodological approach for studying this problem.
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