In Thailand, information on the extent of pesticide exposure and the health effects of such pesticide exposure among farmers is lacking. In contrast, the agricultural chemical has increased in the worldwide. Data from a pilot study amongst 16 farming families (Hanchenlaksh, et al., 2011) indicated that dermal exposure to pesticides, as assessed using a previously validated structured, semi-quantitative observational method (DREAM) wascollected. Showering or washing immediately after spraying greatly reduced potential exposure of family members.
The study was conducted in Suranaree sub-district, Muang district in Nakhonratchasima province, Thailand. 50 Cassava farmers, randomly selected from the agricultural communities, participated. Information on farmers was collected by an interviewer-led questionnaire and a self-completed diary for any health symptoms in the spraying week and a non-spraying reference period from the farmers. Dermal exposure of the farmers during one spraying session was assessed by the DREAM methodology.
Potential dermal exposure estimates indicated considerable dermal exposure for farmers that was, on average. Only 18% of farmers used any form of personal protective equipment (PPE) and such as actual dermal exposure equated potential exposure for the majority of farmers. Almost 90% of farmers showered immediately after using pesticides. During spraying season 92% reported muscle/joint, 68% breathing/heart, 64% reported gastro-intestinal, 62% visual, 42% skin problems and 38% eye problems; compared with the non-spraying season when adverse effects were only reported by 25%, 17%, 15%,10%, 8%, 5%, respectively.
These data show that farmers experienced significant potential exposure to pesticides by the dermal route while spraying pesticides, and that only a small minority wore PPE. The prevalence of adverse health symptoms self-reported by farmers was much higher during the spraying season compared to non-spraying reference periods.