Hazardous pesticides in Central America

Int J Occup Environ Health. 2001 Oct-Dec;7(4):287-94. doi: 10.1179/107735201800339236.


Pesticides are an extensively documented occupational and environmental hazard in Central America. Yet, severe problems persist. Toxic pesticide use in the Region increased during 1985-1999. High exposure levels and ineffectiveness of personal protective equipment evidence the difficulties for risk reduction. Acute poisonings remain a severe problem. Delayed and/or long-lasting health effects include dermatoses, cancer, and genotoxic, neurotoxic, and respiratory effects. The use of hazardous pesticides persists through deficiencies in government-driven assessment and risk management; excessive focus on regional harmonization; short-term economic interests; strong links between industry and governments; aggressive marketing; weak trade unions; and failure of universities to reach decision makers. Regulation based on local data is lacking. An agreement of the Ministries of Health for restricting the most toxic pesticides in Central America has potential for progress. The most effective way to reduce risk is to greatly reduce pesticide use. Actions needed include development of multidisciplinary strategies for local studies on health and environmental impact of pesticides; development of sustainable nonchemical agricultural technologies; evaluation of interventions; extending and sharing of expertise within the Region; strengthening of unions and communities; and redefining the role of industry toward development of safer products, with responsible marketing and reliable information.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Academies and Institutes / trends
  • Central America
  • Chemical Industry / trends
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Hazardous Substances / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Labor Unions / trends
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Public Sector / trends
  • Risk Assessment


  • Hazardous Substances
  • Pesticides