Background: Pesticides, despite their known toxicity, are widely used in developing countries for agricultural purposes.
Objectives: To find various patterns of hardware use for spraying of insecticides, prevalent storage practice adopted by the user, types of personal protective equipments used for the handling of chemicals; to detect dangerous practices and the extent to which safety norms being followed by the users during the application/treatments, and finally their knowledge concerning the risks of pesticides.
Materials and methods: The agriculture workers who had been involved in pesticide application for agricultural purpose were interviewed face-to-face to gain information on the following determinants of pesticide exposure: Types, treatment equipment, use of personal protection and safety measures during the application/treatments and knowledge of the risks of pesticide exposure.
Results: Hundred workers, aged between 21 and 60 years old, were included. Pesticides were mostly applied with manual equipment using Knapsack (70%) and only 5% farmers were using Tractor-mounted sprayer. Workers frequently performed tasks involving additional exposure to pesticides (mixing chemicals, 66%, or washing equipment, 65%). Majority of the workers/applicators used no personal protection measures or used it defectively/partially. Most of the workers/respondents (77%) did not bother for safety and health risks of pesticide exposure.
Conclusions: Workers involved in pesticide application use personal protection measures very poorly and defectively. Almost half of the applicators were not following right direction with respect to wind direction while spraying, thus it increase the risk of exposure. There is a clear need to develop specific training and prevention programs for these workers. The determinants of pesticide exposure in agricultural workers described in this study should be properly assessed in epidemiological studies of the health effects of pesticides on agricultural workers at national level.
Keywords: Agricultural worker; personal protective equipment; pesticide application; protective measure.