Background: Health effects of pesticides have not been well studied in black farmers. We describe agricultural practices and pesticide-related symptoms in North Carolina black and white farmers participating in the Agricultural Health Study.
Methods: Self-administered questionnaires were completed by 891 black and 11,909 white farmers licensed to apply restricted pesticides. Regression models were used to compare characteristics by race.
Results: Black farmers reported lower lifetime pesticide use, less use of each class of pesticides (e.g., herbicides, insecticides), less use of high exposure application methods, and fewer pesticide-related symptoms such as headaches or dizziness, skin irritation, chest discomfort and feeling nervous or depressed than did white farmers.
Conclusions: Differences between black and white farmers may be explained by farm characteristics or economics. Despite lower use of pesticides, black farmers may have other work practices that affect exposure and risk.