Acute Work-Related Pesticide Associated Illness and Injury Reported to Poison Control Centers

workers in farm field

When used appropriately, pesticides provide a variety of benefits to society: increasing crop production, preserving produce, and controlling insect and exotic species infestations.  However, exposure to pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides) may also confer a health risk to people.  Consequently, they are heavily regulated to ensure proper usage and application.  Even with heavy regulation, incidents of exposure through misuse or improper application still occur.   Individuals that are mixing, applying, or working in areas that receive pesticide applications are at increased risk of exposure.

crop duster

This indicator identifies the number and rate of acute work-related poisonings that occur each year due to pesticide exposure based on data from the Minnesota Poison Control Center.  This indicator will not provide a complete count since not every case is reported to the Poison Control Center and symptoms of an acute reaction are not always recognized as due to pesticide exposure.  The cases collected and counted in this indicator are those that have been recognized as pesticide related and a call has been made to the Minnesota Poison Control Center to report the incident.   Because the indicator makes use of the data collected by the Poison Control Center, there is a large undercount in the number of cases.  The cases collected and counted are only those that are reported to the Poison Control Center and only those where accompanying work-relatedness information has been collected.  While this indicator may not be a complete count of the number of pesticide poisonings related to work that occurs each year in Minnesota, it does provide an understanding of the magnitude of poisonings that occur each year.

Reported Work-Related Pesticide Poisoning Cases in Minnesota, 2000-2011

Year Number Rate per 100,000 Employed Persons Age 16 or Older
2000 72 2.7
2001 40 1.5
2002 44 1.6
2003 49 1.8
2004 37 1.3
2005 37 1.3
2006 90 3.2
2007 132 4.76
2008 93 3.41
2009 63 2.33
2010 68 2.5
2011 68 2.46

This table shows the number of pesticide poisoning cases reported to the Minnesota Poison Control Center to be work-related during 2000 – 2011.  The rate per 100,000 employed persons greater than 16 years of age is also included on the table.

A change in the definition of an occupational pesticide poisoning case between 2005 and 2006 requires that one use caution when comparing years prior to 2005 to the time span including 2006 to the present.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health(NIOSH) has developed the Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risk (SENSOR)-Pesticides program in an attempt to build capacity for tracking pesticide related illness and injury. Eleven states participate in the SENSOR-Pesticides program. Five are funded by NIOSH (California, Michigan, Iowa, New York, and Washington) and six are unfunded or receive EPA funds (Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, and Texas) to conduct surveillance for occupationally-related pesticide illnesses and injuries.  The cases collected by these states are then reported back to NIOSH in an attempt to describe what might be occurring at the national level in regards to work-related pesticide illness and injury.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a partner with NIOSH in the provision of funds to several states that conduct SENSOR activities, estimates that between 10,000 and 20,000 pesticide poisonings occur each year in the approximately 2 million U.S. agricultural workers (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/pesticides/). A map showing the incidence rate of acute work-related pesticide poisonings for each state from 2000-2009 is available at the NIOSH SENSOR-Pesticides Program web site.

Acute Occupational Pesticide-Related Illness Cases (11 SENSOR states)*

Year Number
2000 540
2001 519
2002 519
2003 524
2004 513
2005 566
2006 691
2000 - 2006 3,872
*http://wwwn.cdc.gov/niosh-survapps/sensor/Search.aspx

Number of Work-Related Pesticide Poisonings Reported in Minnesota, 2000-2011

This graph shows the number of pesticide poisonings  identified as work-related when reported to the Minnesota Pesticide Poison Control  Center beginning in 2000 with 72 cases and ending in 2011 with 68.  The graph also depicts the lack of increasing  or decreasing trend in the data.  All  data points are available in table: Reported Work-Related Pesticide Poisoning  Cases in Minnesota, 2000 – 2011.

Rate of Work-Related Pesticide Poisonings Reported in Minnesota, 2000-2011

This graph shows the rate of pesticide poisonings that are  work-related per 100,000 employed persons at least 16 years of age in Minnesota  beginning in 2000 with a rate of 2.7 cases per 100,000 employed persons and  ending in 2011 with a rate of 2.46 cases per 100,000 employed persons.  All data points are available in table:  Reported Work-Related Pesticide Poisoning Cases in Minnesota, 2000 – 2011.

A trend analysis of the number of work-related pesticide poisoning cases from 2000 to 2011 did not find any statistically significant increase or decrease in the number of cases from year to year.   Continued surveillance will be necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of educational and regulatory practices in reducing future pesticide poisonings.

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Updated Friday, March 22, 2013 at 12:16PM