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Provider survey of reporting laws for pesticide exposure in Texas.

J Agromed 2010 Jul; 15(3):318-319
Since 1987, DSHS Pesticide Exposure Surveillance in Texas program (PEST) has received funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) under SENSOR cooperative agreements to conduct surveillance of occupational pesticide exposures. In 2004, PEST started including disinfectant exposures in its surveillance and acquires most of these data from reports to Texas Poison Centers. While reports of disinfectant exposures have risen dramatically, reports of agricultural exposures have diminished. Underreporting is likely the case, so PEST decided to conduct a pilot survey of providers to gauge their knowledge of reporting laws in Texas. DSHS PEST acquired mailing addresses for 2,500 emergency room and occupational health providers from the Texas Center for Health Statistics and mailed letters asking if they would take a short informational survey about their knowledge of pesticide poisoning and the reporting laws for occupational pesticide exposures. They were asked to take the survey online; however, for their convenience, a copy of the survey also was included in the letter so that the survey could be faxed back to DSHS PEST. The survey included five questions that required either or a yes or no answer: 1) Do you and your staff know that Texas law requires you to report a suspected pesticide exposure to the state health department (800-458-7269)? 2) Do you and your staff know that you can also report that exposure to the Texas Poison Center Network (800- 222-1222)? 3) Do you and your staff know that a disinfectant (including chlorine) is legally considered a pesticide? 4) Do you and your staff know how to identify a possible pesticide exposure? 5) Do you or your staff ever run tests on patients with possible pesticide exposures (e.g., cholinesterase or urinary metabolite tests)? Only 78 (3 people) percent responded to the survey. Eighteen percent of the surveys were completed online, 10 percent were mailed to DSHS PEST, and 72 percent were returned by fax. Of those providers who responded, 28 percent were aware that they were required by law to report occupational pesticide exposures; 54 percent were aware that they could use the Texas Poison Centers for reporting a pesticide exposure; 15 percent knew that disinfectants were considered a pesticide; 77 percent felt confident that they knew how to identify a pesticide exposure; and 38 percent had run diagnostic tests to identify type of exposure. These data, while limited, indicate that providers in Texas are not aware that disinfectants are considered pesticides or that pesticide exposure is a reportable condition. DSHS PEST conducts educational campaigns in at hospitals and in the community, but these data suggest that alternative forms of interaction and education may be necessary to inform providers of pesticide exposure reporting requirements in Texas.
Pesticides-and-agricultural-chemicals; Pesticides; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Surveillance-programs; Disinfectants; Poisons; Humans; Men; Women; Statistical-analysis; Education
Brienne Diebolt-Brown, Environmental & Injury Epidemiology & Toxicology Unit, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, TX
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Cooperative Agreement
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Journal of Agromedicine
Performing Organization
Texas Department of State Health Services