Acute pesticide poisoning: a major global health problem

World Health Stat Q. 1990;43(3):139-44.


The global problem of acute pesticide poisoning has been confirmed as extensive by a variety of independent estimates. Further, it is also recognized to be a problem confined to the developing countries. Most estimates concerning the extent of acute pesticide poisoning have been based on data from hospital admissions which would include only the more serious cases. The latest estimate by a WHO task group indicates that there may be 1 million serious unintentional poisonings each year and in addition 2 million people hospitalized for suicide attempts with pesticides. This necessarily reflects only a fraction of the real problem. On the basis of a survey of self-reported minor poisoning carried out in the Asian region, it is estimated that there could be as many as 25 million agricultural workers in the developing world suffering an episode of poisoning each year. This article emphasizes the need to control the problem on a collaborative basis by all concerned, including national governments, agrochemical industries, international agencies, scientists and victims.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Developing Countries
  • Humans
  • Pesticides / poisoning*
  • Poisoning / mortality
  • Poisoning / prevention & control
  • Suicide
  • Suicide, Attempted


  • Pesticides