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Farmers' knowledge, practices and injuries associated with pesticide exposure in rural farming villages in Tanzania

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Background: Pesticides in Tanzania are extensively used for pest control in agriculture. Their usage and unsafe handling practices may potentially result in high farmer exposures and adverse health effects.The aim of this study was to describe farmers' pesticide exposure profile, knowledge about pesticide hazards, experience of previous poisoning, hazardous practices that may lead to Acute Pesticide Poisoning (APP) and the extent to which APP is reported. Methods. The study involved 121 head- of-household respondents from Arumeru district in Arusha region. Data collection involved administration of a standardised questionnaire to farmers and documentation of storage practices. Unsafe pesticide handling practices were assessed through observation of pesticide storage, conditions of personal protective equipment (PPE) and through self-reports of pesticide disposal and equipment calibration. Results: Past lifetime pesticide poisoning was reported by 93% of farmers. The agents reported as responsible for poisoning were Organophosphates (42%) and WHO Class II agents (77.6%).Storage of pesticides in the home was reported by 79% of farmers. Respondents with higher education levels were significantly less likely to store pesticides in their home (PRR High/Low = 0.3; 95% CI = 0.1-0.7) and more likely to practice calibration of spray equipment (PRR High/Low = 1.2; 95% CI = 1.03-1.4). However, knowledge of routes of exposure was not associated with safety practices particularly for disposal, equipment wash area, storage and use of PPE. The majority of farmers experiencing APP in the past (79%) did not attend hospital and of the 23 farmers who did so in the preceding year, records could be traced for only 22% of these cases. Conclusions: The study found a high potential for pesticide exposure in the selected community in rural Tanzania, a high frequency of self-reported APP and poor recording in hospital records. Farmers' knowledge levels appeared to be unrelated to their risk. Rather than simply focusing on knowledge-based strategies, comprehensive interventions are needed to reduce both exposure and health risks, including training, improvements in labeling, measures to reduce cost barriers to the adoption of safe behaviours, promotion of control measures other than PPE and support for Integrated Pest Management (IPM). © 2014 Lekei et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Lekei, E. E., Ngowi, A. V., & London, L. (2014). Farmers’ knowledge, practices and injuries associated with pesticide exposure in rural farming villages in Tanzania. BMC Public Health, 14(1).

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