Tuesday, June 7, 2011

NIOSH Study Confirms Pesticide Drift Hazards Posed by Conventional Agriculture

It is time for people [and this one if for you Prof Gerhard Verdoorn!!]   in the industry to realize the effect of pesticide drift on human health, as proven in this study. (Symptoms aren't always the side effects of medicine and symptoms of drug abuse as claimed by the industry!)

Page 14 of "The Study " : "... data suggest that residents in agriculture-intensive regions have a 69 times higher risk of pesticide  poisoning from drift exposure compared to other regions".

(Beyond Pesticides, June 7, 2011) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and state agency partners finds that pesticide drift from conventional, chemical-intensive farming has poisoned thousands of farmworkers and rural residents in recent years. According to the authors, agricultural workers and residents in agricultural regions were found to have the highest rate of pesticide poisoning from drift exposure, and soil fumigations were a major hazard causing large drift incidents. 

The study, “Acute Pesticide Illnesses Associated with Off-Target Pesticide Drift from Agricultural Applications — 11 States, 1998–2006,” was published June 6, 2011 in the online edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Using data from NIOSH’s Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR) - Pesticides Program and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, the study identifies 2,945 cases of pesticide poisoning associated with agricultural pesticide drift in 11 states. While the study focuses on top agriculture producing states, it provides only a snapshot of the poisoning of farmworkers and other rural residents nationally and around the world. Advocates also point out that pesticide poisoning is often underreported by farmworkers. According to the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, only one percent of California pesticide illness or injury is reported. 

Of the cases attributed to pesticide drift examined in this study, 47% had exposures at work and 14% were children (<15 years). Most experienced “low severity” illness. The overall incidence (in million person-years) is 114.3 for agricultural workers, 0.79 for other workers, 1.56 for non-occupational cases, and 42.2 for residents in five agriculture-intensive counties in California. Soil applications with fumigants are responsible for the largest proportion (45%) of cases. Aerial applications account for 24% of cases. Study findings show that the risk of illness resulting from drift exposure is largely borne by agricultural workers, and the incidence (114.3/million worker-years) was 145 times greater than that for all other workers.
While this study focuses only on acute poisoning due to pesticide drift, an increasing number of studies are linking low level agricultural pesticide exposure to chronic health impacts. Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database features dozens of studies linking common diseases, from asthma and autism to Parkinson’s disease and cancer, to pesticide drift and other agricultural exposures. 

Pesticide spray drift is typically the result of small spray droplets being carried off-site by air movement. The main weather factors that cause drift are wind, humidity and temperature changes. Aside from poisoning people and animals, drift can injure foliage, shoots, flowers and fruits resulting in reduced yields, economic loss and illegal residues on exposed crops.
Beyond Pesticides has long advocated that people support a healthy work environment for farmworkers by choosing organic food and supporting the work of farmworker advocacy organizations. For more information going organic for farmworkers and rural residents, as well as for the your family’s health and the environment, see Beyond Pesticides’ Organic Food: Eating with a Conscience web guide.


  1. im a student at cput and i'd like to thank the TATIB foundation for put this valuable infor for us so the we can be more aware of these issues arising from our environment. this is indeed a great example to other communities to stood up and do something about hazard that are harmful to our well being and to our environment.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    Thanks for your comment and interest in The TATIB Foundation. We are here to serve you and your fellow students and so please "spread the word" and become active on this blogspot and also on our facebook page "The TATIB Foundation".

    The future of this planet lies in the hands of the youth - the students - and we would like you to actively campaign to get as many of your fellow students to join us so that united we can all make a difference.