MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Geoffrey M. Calvert MD
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
CDC Cincinnati, Ohio
Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Calvert: Since 1987, acute occupational pesticide-related illness and injury has been one of the conditions under surveillance by NIOSH. NIOSH supports these surveillance activities by providing cooperative agreement funding and technical support to state health departments. The SENSOR-Pesticides program is also partially funded by EPA. A total of 12 states currently participate in the SENSOR-Pesticides program.
With the 2015 publication of the Summary of Notifiable Non-Infectious Conditions and Disease Outbreaks – United States, official statistics for the occurrence of acute occupational pesticide-related illness and injury were published for the first time in the same volume of the MMWR with information on nationally notifiable infectious diseases.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Dr. Calvert: From 2007 through 2010, a total of 2,014 cases of acute occupational pesticide-related illness and injury were identified in 11 states (one state recently joined SENSOR-Pesticides and didn’t have any data for this time period). Rates of illness and injury among agricultural industry workers (18.4/100,000) were 37 times greater than the rates for non-agricultural workers (0.5/100,000). Rates were found to be highest in Washington State. Most cases were exposed to insecticides (i.e. pesticides that control insects) or herbicides (i.e. pesticides that control weeds). A total of 81% of cases were low severity (these illnesses and injuries usually resolves without treatment), 17% were moderate severity (non-life threatening, but requires medical treatment), and 1% were high severity (life threatening, requires hospitalization, and may result in permanent impairment). There was one death.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Calvert: Acute occupational pesticide-related illness and injury continues to be an important problem, especially for agricultural workers. Furthermore, the counts and rates are likely to be underestimates of the true magnitude of acute occupational pesticide-related illness and injury. This is, in part, because most health care professionals are not acquainted with the recognition and management of these illnesses, and may not accurately diagnose patients with this illness.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Calvert: NIOSH plans to issue a similar report annually. The US Environmental Protection Agency, which is the federal agency that regulates pesticides, has recently adopted stronger regulations to protect agricultural workers from pesticide exposure (i.e. the Worker Protection Standard). The findings from these annual reports can be used to assess the effectiveness of the stronger regulations (i.e. are the stronger regulations leading to reductions in acute occupational pesticide-related illness and injury among agricultural workers).
MMWR Weekly October 23, 2015 / 62(54);5-10
Geoffrey M. Calvert, MD et al
Geoffrey M. Calvert MD (2015). Acute Occupational Pesticide-Related Illness Highest in Agricultural Workers