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Acute pesticide-related illness among emergency responders, 1993-2002

Methods: Survey data collected from the SENSOR-Pesticides, CDPR, and HSEES programs between 1993 through 2002 from 21 states were reviewed. Acute occupational pesticide-related illness incidence rates for each category of emergency responder were calculated, as were incidence rate ratios (IRR) among emergency responders compared to all other workers employed in nonagricultural industries.

Results: A total of 291 cases were identified. Firefighters accounted for 111 cases (38%), law enforcement officers for 104 cases (36%), emergency medical technicians for 34 cases (12%), and 42 cases (14%) were unspecified emergency responders. Among the 200 cases with information on activity responsible for exposure, most were exposed while performing non-patient care activities related to a pesticide release event (84%), while the remainder involved exposure to pesticide- contaminated patients. A majority of cases were exposed to insecticides (51%). Most had low severity illnesses (90%). The incidence rate was highest for firefighters (39.1/million firefighters) and law enforcement officers (26.6/million law enforcement officers). The IRRs were also elevated for these professions (firefighters, IRR=2.67; law enforcement officers, IRR=1.69).

Conclusions: The findings suggest the need for greater efforts to prevent acute occupational pesticide-related illness among emergency responders.

Calvert GM, Barnett M, Mehler LN, Becker A, Das R, Beckman J, Male D, Sievert J, Thomsen C, Morrissey B. Acute pesticide-related illness among emergency responders, 1993-2002. Am J Ind Med 2006; 49:383-393.

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