249868 Gender differences in acute pesticide poisoning among farmworkers in the United States, 1998-2007

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Geoffrey M. Calvert, MD, MPH , Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH
Edward J. Kasner, MPH , Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH
Background: Farmworkers have a high risk for acute pesticide poisoning, and the rate among female farmworkers is approximately twice as high as that among male farmworkers. Objective: Explore reasons for the gender difference of acute pesticide poisoning among farmworkers. Methods: We identified acute pesticide poisoning cases in farmworkers between ages 15 and 64 that occurred from 1998 to 2007 from the Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR)-Pesticides Program and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR). Acute occupational pesticide poisoning incidence rates were calculated and gender-specific associations were identified. National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) data were examined to identify national demographic differences between female and male farmworkers. Results: Based on the national demographic estimates from NAWS, it appears that the over-representation of females among farmworker poisoning cases is confined to females who do not handle pesticides (i.e. non-handlers). Nationally, 20% of all those employed as non-handler farmworkers are female, but 40% of the non-handler farmworkers poisoned by pesticides were female. Female non-handler farmworkers were more likely to be working on fruit and nut crops, to be exposed to off-target pesticide drift, and to be exposed to fungicides and fumigants compared to male non-handler farmworkers. Conclusion: Farmworkers have little or no control over many contributing factors that lead to pesticide poisoning. Stringent enforcement of existing regulations and enhanced regulatory efforts to protect against off-target drift exposures may have the highest impact in reducing risks of acute pesticide poisoning among farmworkers.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify discrepancies in exposure, illness, or work patterns between female and male farmworkers using pesticide poisoning surveillance data. 2. Compare exposure patterns between pesticide handlers and non-handlers.

Keywords: Pesticide Exposure, Surveillance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an ASPH Fellow with CDC/NIOSH who studied environmental health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.