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Soc Sci Med. 1995 Feb;40(4):431-6.

Protective measure use and symptoms among agropesticide applicators in Sri Lanka.

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Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.


Sri Lankan farmers use large amounts of pesticides to control the pests affecting their vegetable crops. Improper use of pesticides by farmers has resulted in poisoning of occupational origin. This paper examines the use of protective measures by pesticide applicators and its relationship to their illness symptoms. The data were collected by interviewing a stratified random sample of 150 farmers from predominantly vegetable growing areas of the Matale district during 1990/91 using structured questionnaires. These data were supplemented with secondary data and observation of all stages of pesticide application. Scales were constructed to measure the domains of material style of life, awareness and use of protective measures, and illness symptoms experienced by pesticide applicators. It was found that most of the farmers were aware of the protective measures to be used when applying pesticides. There was, however, no significant positive relationship between awareness and use of protective measures. The main reason for not using protective measures was discomfort. The most common symptoms reported by pesticide applicators were faintish feeling, headache and dizziness. A significant negative relationship was observed between use of protective measures and symptoms exhibited within four hours of application. It is recommended that protective materials adapted to the climate and socio-economic conditions of farmers be developed, and that farmers be encouraged to use these protective materials through appropriate educational efforts and incentives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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