Health risks associated with pesticide exposure and pesticides handling practices among farmers in Thailand
Keywords:agriculture, farmer, health risk, pesticides, pesticide exposure, serum cholinesterase level
One of the major public health problems in Thailand is pesticide intoxication, which is the result of intensive use of and exposure to pesticides. Smallholder farming is the main occupation that generates incomes for the population in Lampang province and the previous study found that the levels of serum cholinesterase (SChE) of blood’s farmers were at high risk of exposure to pesticide at 82%. The objectives of this study were to investigate the pesticide practices of farmers and their symptoms, the health risks of exposure to pesticides, SChE levels and the relationship between demographic characteristics and pesticides practices, health risk levels and the health statuses of farmers, who are exposed to pesticides in Muang district, Lampang province, in Northern Thailand. A cross-sectional study was conducted from June 2019 to August 2020. Data were collected from 416 farmers using a structured face-to-face interview questionnaire. To determine the levels of SChE, a reactive paper finger blood test was implemented. Pearson’s Chi-square and Pearson’s correlation tests were used to analyze the relationship between the farmers’ health status and their pesticide handling practices. The results revealed that almost 48.08% of the respondents were at a high risk level and almost all the respondents had abnormal levels of SChE, which were at risk and unsafe with 36.78% and 45.19% of respondents, respectively. Therefore, the recommendation is to encourage farmers to reduce pesticide usage and stricter surveillance of pesticide usage should be implemented, especially SChE levels screening test to raise awareness of the pesticide usage.
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