Introduction: The herbicide glyphosate is administered aerially by the Program to Eradicate Illicit Crops Program and is undertaken in rigorous compliance with the Environmental Management Plan.
Objective: The effects of the glyphosate herbicide and other aerially applied insecticides were measured to determine possible impact on human health.
Materials and methods: In 2006-2006, a survey was taken of 112 individuals living in herbicide-treated areas of the Colombian provinces of Huila, Tolima, Putumayo, Guaviare, Santander, Antioquia, Magdalena and La Guajira. Samples of blood were examined for presence of acetylcholinesterase and organochlorine insecticides; urine was analyzed for glyphosate and its metabolites.
Results: Fifty percent (50%) of the individuals sampled acknowledged the use of control chemicals as part of their work. The mean exposure time to the chemicals was 84.4 months, with a mean daily exposure of 5.6 hours. The most commonly used pesticides were of category I--extremely hazardous. In individuals sampled for glyphosate (39.6% of the total), 64.3% indicated the use of this herbicide at ground level in agricultural work. A statistically significative relationship was found between the use of glyphosate at ground level, and the concentration levels of glyphosate in the urine samples (odds ratio=2.54, 95% CI: 1.08 to 6.8).
Conclusion: These data did not show a relationship between the aerial sprayings of glyphosate for illicit crops eradication and an impact on human health, nor with occupational exposure to this and other chemicals (insecticides) with a high levels of toxicity.