Effectiveness of an educational program to promote pesticide safety among pesticide handlers of South India
Occupational poisoning with pesticides is common in developing countries because farmers are often under trained, illiterate and consider it impractical and expensive to use safety equipment, especially in tropical climates. Greater benefit of education programs on prevention can be obtained if initiated in areas having higher occurrence of poisoning. Hence, the present study evaluated occurrence of poisoning and effectiveness of educational interventions among pesticide handlers in areas having high occurrence of occupational poisoning.
Two villages of Udupi district of South India were identified by spot mapping and targeted for a public education program on safe handling of pesticides, the impact of which was assessed using a knowledge attitude and practice (KAP) questionnaire. Education was provided using a structured individualized training program to 74 pesticide handlers. Three point KAP assessments were carried out at baseline, immediately after training and after 1 month of training. Nonparametric Kruskal–Wallis tests and Friedmann tests were used to compare scores at different time points and between groups.
Occurrence of occupation related poisoning was 33% and common in three villages of the district. The average baseline KAP score of 30.88 ± 10.33 improved after education significantly (P < 0.001) at first follow-up 45.03 ± 9.16 and at second follow-up 42.9 ± 9.54. A decline of score between the first and second follow-up may be attributed to decline in knowledge retention. Demographics like gender, literacy and presence of children affected KAP score and there was no influence of geography, age or frequency of pesticide use.
Educational intervention among pesticide handlers improved the KAP score for safe pesticide handling. We recommend that continuous education and training programs for agricultural workers will promote awareness and minimize the hazards of occupational pesticide exposure.
KeywordsOccupation pesticide safety Education program Knowledge attitude and practice-KAP
The authors are thankful to officials of Zilla Panchayat Office, Udupi for providing district map; officials of medical records department, Kasturba Hospital; Scientists of Department of Epidemiology, ITRC-Lucknow for validation of questionnaire; Prof. Andrew Dawson, Clinical Toxicologist, Sri Lanka for his valuable suggestions; Association of Community Pharmacists of India, Manipal for patronage.
- Arun M, Nagesh KR, Vikram P et al (2005) Geriatric poisoning fatalities: a Manipal perspective, medico legal update. World Inf Synd 5:9–12Google Scholar
- The Health and Environmental Linkages Initiative, World Health Organization (2007) Toxic hazards. http://www.who.int/heli/risks/toxics/chemicals/en/
- Ngowi AVF (2003) A study of farmers’ knowledge, attitude and experience in the use of pesticides in coffee farming. Afr Newsl Occup Health Saf 13:62–64Google Scholar
- Conant J (2005) Pesticides are poison, a community guide to environmental health, Hesperian foundation, CA USA. http://www.hesperian.info/assets/Pesticides_EN.pdf
- Ellenhorn MJ (1997) Pesticides. In: Ellenhorn’s medical toxicology-diagnosis and treatment of human poisoning, 2nd edn. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, pp 1614–1663Google Scholar
- Pesticide education program (2003) What you need to know about storing a pesticide. Agricultural research and cooperative extension program college of agricultural sciences, The Pennyslvania State University http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/uo216.pdf
- Food and fertilizer technology center for the Asian and Pacific region (2004) Monitoring of pesticide residue on crops and farmer’s education on safe use of pesticide. http://www.agnet.org/library/pt/2004029/
- Prochaska SC (1998) Ohio farmer use of the pesticide label, J Ext 36:1. http://www.joe.org/joe/1998february/rb2.html
- Bury DL, Dbrowski ZT, Labanowska BH (2005) Survey of current crop and pest management practices on black currant plantations in Poland. J Fruit Ornam Plant Res 13:91–100Google Scholar