Gender differences in acute pesticide-related illnesses and injuries among farmworkers in the United States, 1998–2007

Authors


  • Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Association of Schools of Public Health, or each author's state agency. This publication was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number U36/CCU300430 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of Schools of Public Health.

Abstract

Background

Farmworkers have a high risk for acute pesticide-related illness and injury, and the rate among female farmworkers is approximately twice as high as that among males. Surveillance data were used to identify reasons for this gender difference.

Methods

We identified acute pesticide-related illness and injury cases among farmworkers from the Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR)-Pesticides Program and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Gender-specific associations with acute pesticide-related illness and injury were assessed using chi-square tests. National Agricultural Workers Survey data were also examined.

Results

The over-representation of females among farmworker illness and injury cases was confined to females who did not handle pesticides (non-handlers). Female non-handler farmworkers who were affected 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 males.

Conclusions

Although there is an increased risk for acute pesticide-related illness and injury among female farmworkers, the absolute number of farmworkers with acute pesticide-related illness and injury is far higher among males than females. Furthermore, farmworkers have little or no control over many of the identified contributing factors that led to illness and injury. Stringent enforcement of existing regulations and enhanced regulatory efforts to protect against off-target drift exposures may have the highest impact in reducing acute pesticide-related illness and injury among farmworkers. Am. J. Ind. Med. Published 2012. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. Am. J. Ind. Med. 55:571–583, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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