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When used properly, pesticides offer a variety of benefits to society. They increase crop production, preserve produce, combat insect infestations, and control exotic species. However, pesticides also have the potential for causing harm. Approximately 1.1 billion pounds of pesticide active ingredient are used annually in the U.S., and over 17,000 pesticide products are being marketed in the U.S.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10,000-20,000 physician-diagnosed pesticide poisonings occur each year among the approximately 2 million U.S. agricultural workers. Agricultural workers, groundskeepers, pet groomers, fumigators, and a variety of other occupations are at risk for exposure to pesticides including fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides, and sanitizers.

Surveillance for occupational pesticide-related illness and injury is designed to protect workers by determining the magnitude and underlying causes of over-exposure to pesticides in the workplace. Surveillance also serves as an early warning system of any harmful effects not detected by manufacturer testing of pesticides. NIOSH and the Environmental Protection Agency conduct surveillance for occupational pesticide-related illness and injury through the SENSOR-Pesticides program. For further information about SENSOR-Pesticides, including a how-to guide, other publications, case definition and the national aggregated database, see the following links.

NIOSH Resources

Overview of SENSOR-Pesticides

NIOSHTIC-2 Search Results for Pesticides
NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.

How-to Guide for Developing a State-based Surveillance Program
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2006-102 (2006)
This manual provides information on how to develop and maintain surveillance programs for acute and subacute health effects from pesticide exposure.

SENSOR-Pesticides National Database
A searchable database of information on 9,740 acute occupational pesticide poisoning cases who were exposed between 1998-2011.

Fact Sheet: Reducing Pesticide Exposure at Schools
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2007-150 (2007)
Exposures and potential health effects to children and school staff can be reduced by avoiding routine pesticide applications through an integrated pest management (IPM) program.

A Story of Impact: NIOSH Pesticide Poisoning Monitoring Program Protects Farmworkers
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2012-108 (2012)
This document describes the impact of collaboration between the SENSOR-Pesticides Program and colleagues in Florida and North Carolina to investigate three migrant farmworkers who gave birth to infants with birth defects within eight weeks of each other.