Worker Health and Safety Surveillance

Pesticide Illness and Injury Surveillance

At a glance

We use data from the SENSOR-Pesticides Program and the National Poison Data System to keep workers safe from work-related pesticide exposures.

Tractor spraying pesticides on vegetable field with sprayer at spring. Photo by fotokostic/GettyImages

About this program

The Pesticide Illness and Injury Surveillance Program was developed to examine over-exposure to pesticides in the workplace.

We use this knowledge to prevent these exposures from happening. This kind of surveillance also serves as an early warning system for any harmful effects not detected by pesticide manufacturer testing.

Data sources

We use two data sources to monitor the trends in pesticide-related illnesses and injuries that occur on the job:

  1. SENSOR-Pesticides (Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risk-Pesticides) program data
  2. National Poison Data System (NPDS) data

SENSOR-Pesticides data

The SENSOR Program builds and maintains occupational illness and injury surveillance within state health departments.

One of the conditions supported under SENSOR is acute occupational pesticide-related illness and injury. This is referred to as the "SENSOR-Pesticides" program. Using cooperative agreement funds from NIOSH and the EPA, health departments conduct surveillance on acute occupational pesticide-related illnesses or injuries.

States participating in the SENSOR-Pesticides program receive federal funding and/or technical support.

Federal-funding and technical support
  • California
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • Texas
  • Washington
Technical support (federally unfunded SENSOR-Pesticides partners)
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon

If your state's health department wants to participate in the SENSOR-Pesticides program, please contact us.

Chart these data!‎

You can examine pesticide-related illness and injury trends using the case data submitted by participating states.

The SENSOR-Pesticides Program is recognized nationally as providing critical information for occupational and public health:

  1. Influenced federal regulations: In September 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) meant to reduce pesticide exposures among agricultural workers. This was the first major WPS revision in 20 years. SENSOR-Pesticides findings are extensively cited in the revised rules.
  2. Improved pesticide applicator training and certification: In December 2016, EPA revised regulations for pesticide applicator certification and training to ensure the competent use of "restricted use" pesticides (RUP). Findings from SENSOR-Pesticides are extensively cited in the announcement. This was the first major revision to these regulations in 40 years.
  3. Safer pest control in schools: After a SENSOR-Pesticides journal article on the national incidence of pesticide poisoning at schools was published, five states passed laws requiring schools to control pests using methods with the least possible health hazards.
  4. Improved pesticide product labels: Findings by SENSOR-Pesticides led to label changes for countless pesticide products to enhance clarity and improve safety. They also lead to state laws in California, Florida, and North Carolina to provide greater protection from pesticide hazards.

National Poison Data System (NPDS)

Besides the SENSOR-Pesticides Program data, we also use NPDS data for acute pesticide illness and injury surveillance.

In the United States, poison control centers receive phone calls reporting instances of poison exposure to adults and children. These centers serve all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Every phone call received is documented in the National Poison Data System (NPDS). The NPDS data are updated regularly.

We use NPDS data to track acute work-related pesticide poisonings, which is one of 25 Occupational Health Indicators tracked by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE)A.


MMWR pesticide-related articles

MMWR is a CDC weekly scientific publication containing data and reports on specific health and safety topics. View selected pesticide-related MMWR articles in NIOSHTIC-2, a database of occupational safety and health publications funded in whole or in part by NIOSH.

Pesticide-related journal articles

NIOSHTIC-2 is a database of occupational safety and health publications funded in whole or in part by NIOSH.

  1. The Occupational Health Indicators were defined by the Occupational Health Surveillance Work Group that consists of NIOSH staff and state occupational health professionals working under the support of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE).