Crop duster aviation mechanics: high risk for pesticide poisoning

Am J Public Health. 1990 Oct;80(10):1236-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.80.10.1236.


A cross-sectional medical survey was conducted among 63 Nicaraguan aviation mechanics exposed to organophosphate and other toxic pesticides. Thirty-one (49 percent) reported having been acutely poisoned on the job. Also, seven of 14 novice mechanics, with less than one year on the job, reported that they had been poisoned. Thirty-eight (61 percent) had cholinesterase levels below the lower limit of normal, including three workers with levels less than 20 percent of the lower limit of normal. Risk factors for low cholinesterase included recent hire and recent poisoning. Workers did not use protective equipment, nor were there facilities for bathing on site. As a result of this survey, the government has prohibited the mixing and loading of pesticides at this airport and requires the washing of planes prior to maintenance work; coveralls and thin, pesticide impermeable gloves are to be issued to mechanics handling pesticide-contaminated parts. Closed system mixing and loading systems have been installed at satellite airstrips.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aircraft*
  • Cholinesterases / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicaragua
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Pesticides / poisoning*
  • Protective Clothing
  • Risk Factors


  • Pesticides
  • Cholinesterases