Health Effects of Pesticide Exposure among Formulators, Repackers and Store Workers in Nairobi, Kenya
Ongachi, Francis Olal
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Though it is widely believed that adverse health effects occur among farm workers who handle pesticides, few studies have been done to quantify the extent to which pesticide formulators, re-packers and store workers are affected. The present study assessed the prevalence of signs and symptoms of illness due to pesticide exposure among factory workers in Nairobi Kenya using a descriptive cross- sectional study design on consenting factory workers. A questionnaire was administered enquiring about their biodata, work practices and occurrence of signsand symptoms associated with pesticide poisoning. Data was coded, entered into MS Access database and analyzed using SPSS version 11.5. Test for significance was done using chi-square to identify key variables associated with pesticide poisoning. Workers who had been in employment for less than one year reported a higher prevalence of signs and symptoms associated to pesticide poisoning such as burning skin (P = 0.004) and dizziness (P = 0.006). Workers who handled organochlorine pesticide had higher prevalence of burning of skin (P = 0.002), convulsions (P = 0.003), twitching (P = 0.004), painful swallowing (P = 0.004), dermatitis (P = 0.019) and headache (P = 0.028) among other pesticide exposure related symptoms. Workers who had handled pesticides for a longer period of time appeared to have less signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning probably suggesting that long term exposure to pesticides either imparted some form of acquired immunity to pesticides or that their longer experience resulted in better risk perception and management. Keywords: pesticide, organochlorine, organophospate, formulator, poisoning.
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