• agricultural workers;
  • epidemiology;
  • occupational disease;
  • pesticide;
  • poisoning;
  • sampling study



Pesticide poisoning from agricultural labor has been recognized as a major public health problem among farmers worldwide. The objective of this study was to examine the incidence of acute occupational pesticide poisoning among male farmers in South Korea.


A nationwide sampling survey of male farmers was conducted in South Korea. This survey used a stratified multistage probability sampling design and adopted the face-to-face interview method. A total of 1,958 male farmers were interviewed in order to estimate the incidence of acute occupational pesticide poisoning in rural areas in 2010. Based on a self-reported definition, the incidence rate in 2010 and the lifetime hospitalization rate due to acute occupational pesticide poisoning among male farmers were estimated.


The incidence rate of acute occupational pesticide poisoning was 24.7 (95% CI 22.1–27.2) per 100 male farmers, which corresponds to 209,512 cases across South Korea in 2010. About 12% of the pesticide poisoning cases included either visiting a medical doctor or hospitalization. The lifetime rate of hospitalization due to occupational pesticide poisoning was 6.1 (95% CI 4.9–7.3) among male farmers. Poisoning occurred mainly when farmers were applying pesticides during summer.


Our nationwide sampling survey demonstrated that acute occupational pesticide poisonings are highly prevalent among male South Korean farmers. Intensive intervention efforts to reduce occupational pesticide poisoning are urgently needed in South Korea. Am. J. Ind. Med. 55:799–807, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.