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J Agromedicine. 2011 Apr;16(2):117-26. doi: 10.1080/1059924X.2011.555282.

Practices in pesticide handling and the use of personal protective equipment in Mexican agricultural workers.

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Department of Environmental Health, Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica (National Institute of Public Health), Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.


Practices related to the safe handling of pesticides and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) are largely unknown among agricultural workers in developing countries. The authors obtained information from 99 Mexican agricultural workers (35 women and 64 men) who answered questions on sociodemographic data, agricultural practices, use of pesticides, use of PPE, and risk perception. As expected, men handled pesticides more frequently than women (67% versus 20%). The workers carried out several agricultural tasks, as is customary in the case of fieldworkers who (1) work in small agricultural enterprises; use a great number of pesticide products (59 commercial brands of pesticides, 33 active ingredients, and 20 chemical families); (2) use mostly manual application equipment; (3) have a low rate of correct usage of PPE (2%), which does not vary according to the education level, the time of year, or the risk perception; and (4) have insufficient hygienic practices. In addition, storage of pesticide products and application equipment at home is frequent among this group of workers (42%), and provides a significant source of para-occupational exposure for the workers' families. These results show the need to develop prevention programs to reduce risks posed by pesticides to agricultural workers and their families.

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