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Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Aug;119(8):1162-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1002843. Epub 2011 May 24.

Acute pesticide illnesses associated with off-target pesticide drift from agricultural applications: 11 States, 1998-2006.

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  • 1Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Pesticides are widely used in agriculture, and off-target pesticide drift exposes workers and the public to harmful chemicals.

OBJECTIVE:

We estimated the incidence of acute illnesses from pesticide drift from outdoor agricultural applications and characterized drift exposure and illnesses.

METHODS:

Data were obtained from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks-Pesticides program and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Drift included off-target movement of pesticide spray, volatiles, and contaminated dust. Acute illness cases were characterized by demographics, pesticide and application variables, health effects, and contributing factors.

RESULTS:

From 1998 through 2006, we identified 2,945 cases associated with agricultural pesticide drift from 11 states. Our findings indicate that 47% were exposed at work, 92% experienced low-severity illness, and 14% were children (< 15 years). The annual incidence ranged from 1.39 to 5.32 per million persons over the 9-year period. The overall incidence (in million person-years) was 114.3 for agricultural workers, 0.79 for other workers, 1.56 for nonoccupational cases, and 42.2 for residents in five agriculture-intensive counties in California. Soil applications with fumigants were responsible for the largest percentage (45%) of cases. Aerial applications accounted for 24% of cases. Common factors contributing to drift cases included weather conditions, improper seal of the fumigation site, and applicator carelessness near nontarget areas.

CONCLUSIONS:

Agricultural workers and residents in agricultural regions had the highest rate of pesticide poisoning from drift exposure, and soil fumigations were a major hazard, causing large drift incidents. Our findings highlight areas where interventions to reduce off-target drift could be focused.

PMID:
21642048
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3237344
Free PMC Article
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