Long-term neurobehavioral effects of mild poisonings with organophosphate and n-methyl carbamate pesticides among banana workers

Int J Occup Environ Health. 2002 Jan-Mar;8(1):27-34. doi: 10.1179/oeh.2002.8.1.27.


Organophosphate poisoning has been associated with chronic neurobehavioral dysfunction, but no epidemiologic data exist with regard to long-term consequences from carbamate poisoning. This cross-sectional study evaluated the neurobehavioral performances of 81 banana workers who, on average 27 months earlier, had received medical attention not requiring hospitalization for mild occupational poisoning by either an organophosphate or a carbamate pesticide. These performances were compared with those of 130 banana workers who had never sought medical attention for pesticide poisoning. Poisoned subjects did less well than controls on tests measuring psychomotor and visuomotor skills, language function, and affect, the differences being significant for coding skills on the Digit-Symbol test and two tests of neuropsychiatric symptoms. These deficits, in particular a marked increase of neuropsychiatric symptoms, occurred among the organophosphate-poisoned subjects, but small deficits in performance were also seen in the carbamate-poisoned subjects. The performances of the previously poisoned subjects who had had contact with cholinesterase inhibitors within three months before testing were particularly poor. These findings in workers with mild poisoning are consistent with previous findings of persistent damage to the central nervous system from organophosphate poisoning. The possibility of persistent neurobehavioral effects associated with poisonings by nmethyl carbamate insecticides cannot be excluded. Workers with histories of poisoning may be more susceptible to neurobehavioral effects with subsequent exposures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agriculture
  • Carbamates*
  • Cognition Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Costa Rica
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developing Countries
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / poisoning*
  • Male
  • Motor Skills Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Musa
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Organophosphorus Compounds*


  • Carbamates
  • Insecticides
  • Organophosphorus Compounds