Background: Pesticide exposure is a major preventable occupational hazard for farmworkers. This study examined the beliefs of Latino farmworkers in North Carolina's Christmas tree industry regarding pesticide exposure.
Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 Mexican male seasonal farmworkers. Participants discussed beliefs about agricultural chemicals, routes of exposure, and health effects of these chemicals. They also discussed their knowledge and use of pesticide safety practices and safety training received.
Results: Most farmworkers knew that pesticides could be harmful, though workers varied in their levels of knowledge regarding routes of exposure, specific health effects of pesticides, and ways to avoid and reduce exposure. Workers varied considerably in the amount of safety training received and use of safety practices. Perceived lack of control and health beliefs were salient factors that decreased workers' use of safety practices.
Conclusions: This study adds to the growing body of research which documents the health beliefs of Latino farmworkers in the U.S. relative to pesticides and pesticide safety. This literature is beginning to show convergence on several points (e.g., farmworker knowledge of acute vs. long-term illness resulting from pesticide exposure), as well as regional variation in pesticide safety beliefs. This study substantiates the need for pesticide safety education to address issues of control as well as beliefs.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.