Study Finds Gender Differences in Acute Pesticide-Related Illnesses and Injuries

A paper by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
researchers finds that farmworkers employed in the United States continue to
have a high risk for acute pesticide-related illness with rates twice as high
among female farmworkers compared with male farmworkers.

The paper "Gender differences in acute pesticide-related illnesses and injuries
among farmworkers in the United States, 1998-2007," is posted online and
explains that the gender difference in rates is confined to farmworkers who
don't directly handle pesticides.

Most farmworkers (86%) do not directly handle pesticides and have little or no
control over many of the contributing factors that lead to their acute
pesticide-related illness such as exposure to off-target pesticide drift, early
re-entry into pesticide-treated areas, and being present in the treated area at
the time of the pesticide application. While female "non-handlers" appear to be
at an increased risk, the total number of farmworkers with acute
pesticide-related illness and injury is far higher among males than females
because approximately 84% of all U.S. farmworkers are male.

"This paper illustrates that both direct exposure to pesticides and pesticide
drift can increase risk of acute pesticide-related incidences," said NIOSH
Director John Howard, M.D. "These findings underscore the importance of
protecting agricultural workers from pesticide exposure, especially where they
have little to no control over many of the contributing factors."

The paper provides an analysis of surveillance data collected by the California
Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) and the Sentinel Event Notification
System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR)-Pesticides program. Female non-handlers
among farmworker illness and injury cases were more likely to be working on
fruit and nut crops, to be exposed by drift from the application site, and to
be exposed to fungicides and fumigants compared to affected male non-handler

The NIOSH findings reinforce the need for heightened efforts to better protect
farmworkers from pesticide exposure. Additional drift protections, improved
compliance with pesticide regulations, and integrated pest management (IPM) can
reduce risks to all farmworkers, the researchers said.

More info - Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)