Farm Workers’ Knowledge, Habits and Health Issues Associated with Pesticide Use

Jovita O. Esechie


Although pesticides are used to mitigate crop losses by pests, farm workers’ poor knowledge and bad habits during application may cause serious health consequences. This study investigates the knowledge and habits of farm workers in the Sultanate of Oman and how these are related to the self-reported acute symptoms caused by pesticide exposure. A total of 153 pesticide workers in Al Batinah Region of Oman were interviewed face to face about their pesticide knowledge, habits and self-reported acute symptoms. About 57% of the farm workers either had no formal education or had only some primary school education, and 80% had no knowledge of warning labels and the names of banned pesticides. There was a significant difference (p <0.001) in self-reported symptoms among those 20 years or less and those 50 years or older. Among those that did not attend school, 85% reported pesticide related symptoms compared to 55% among those who completed secondary education. Self-medication was the commonly used treatment option (42%), followed by local pharmacy (35%), private clinic (14%) and government hospital (9%). Reduction in pesticide related health symptoms could be achieved by mandatory training of farm workers on the use of personal protection equipment, as well as the enforcement of legislation to restrict the availability of the most hazardous pesticides, and the promotion of non-chemical methods of pest control.

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