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Acute pesticide illnesses associated with off-target pesticide drift from agricultural applications - 11 states, 1998-2006.
Lee S-J; Mehler L; Beckman J; Diebolt-Brown B; Prado J; Lackovic M; Waltz J; Mulay P; Schwartz A; Mitchell Y; Moraga-McHaley S; Gergely R; Calvert GM
Environ Health Perspect 2011 Aug; 119(8):1162-1169
Background: Pesticides are widely used in agriculture and off-target pesticide drift results in exposures to workers and the public. Objective: Estimate the incidence of acute illnesses from pesticide drift from outdoor agricultural applications, and describe drift exposure and illness characteristics. Methods: Data were obtained from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks-Pesticides Program and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Drift included off-target movement of pesticide spray, volatiles, and contaminated dust. Acute illness cases were characterized by demographics, pesticide and application variables, health effects, and contributing factors. Results: During 1998-2006, 2,945 cases associated with agricultural pesticide drift were identified from 11 states. Forty-seven percent had exposures at work, 92 percent experienced low severity illness, and 14 percent were children (<15 years). The annual incidence ranged from 1.39 to 5.32 per million persons over the 9-year period. The overall incidence (in million person-years) was 114.3 for agricultural workers, 0.79 for other workers, 1.56 for nonoccupational cases, and 42.2 for residents in 5 agriculture-intensive counties in California. Soil applications with fumigants were responsible for the largest proportion (45%) of cases. Aerial applications accounted for 24 percent of cases. Common factors contributing to drift cases included weather conditions, improper seal of the fumigation site, and applicator carelessness near non-target areas. Conclusions: Agricultural workers and residents in agricultural regions were found to have the highest rate of pesticide poisoning from drift exposure, and soil fumigations were a major hazard causing large drift incidents. These findings highlight areas where interventions to reduce off-target drift could be focused.
Agriculture; Agricultural-chemicals; Agricultural-workers; Pesticides; Pesticides-and-agricultural-chemicals; Pesticide-residues; Airborne-particles; Air-flow; Exposure-assessment; Spraying-equipment; Sprays; Worker-health; Employee-exposure; Public-health; Outdoors; Information-retrieval-systems; Volatiles; Airborne-dusts; Acute-toxicity; Health-hazards; Biological-effects; Demographic-characteristics; Children; Disease-incidence; Aerosol-dispensers; Poisons; Fumigants; Soil-analysis; Environmental-contamination; Author Keywords: agriculture; drift; pesticides; poisoning; surveillance
Geoffrey Calvert, MD, MPH, NIOSH, DSHEFS, 4676 Columbia Parkway, R-17, Cincinnati, OH 45226
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008487; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008466; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008474; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008468
Issue of Publication
Environmental Health Perspectives
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Page last reviewed: September 24, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division