Comparison of pesticide exposure and physical examination, neurological assessment, and laboratory findings between full-time and part-time vegetable farmers in the Philippines

National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila, P Gil Street, 1100 Manila, Philippines.
Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 10/2009; 14(6):345-52. DOI: 10.1007/s12199-009-0105-x
Source: PubMed


This study aimed to compare the work practices and health effects of pesticide exposure between full-time and part-time vegetable farmers.
Data was gathered via structured personal interview using a 9-page questionnaire, physical examination, and blood extraction for complete blood count and serum creatinine.
Pyrethroid was the pesticide type most used by both groups. The risk for full-time farmers was related to both the amount of exposure and the type of pesticide. There were more full-time farmers who complained of falling ill because of work. This difference was statistically significant (P = 0.05). The level of those seeking medical attention was also significantly different between the two groups (P = 0.01). In assessing the individual components of the neurologic examination, 5.22% of full-time and 8.63% of part-time farmers had abnormal cranial nerve function, and 22 (5.7%) and 9 (6.47%) had abnormal motor strength. All farmers tested for reflexes, meningeals, and autonomics from both groups were normal. Based on hematologic examination, full-time farmers had higher mean values for creatinine, white blood cell, red blood cell, hemoglobin, and hematocrit. Activity of cholinesterase enzymes in blood can be utilized as a biomarker for the effect of organophosphates; of the 232 blood cholinesterase results, 94 (40%) were abnormal.
The study showed certain differences between full-time and part-time farmers in terms of farming practices and health-related problems. Education on safe pesticide use and handling and better health monitoring of the farmers are recommended.

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