Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology Vol 200

Volume 200 of the series Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology pp 33-52


Adverse Health Effects of Pesticides in Agrarian Populations of Developing Countries

  • Chandrasekharan Nair Kesavachandran
  • , Mohammad Fareed
  • , Manoj Kumar Pathak
  • , Vipin Bihari
  • , Neeraj Mathur
  • , Anup Kumar SrivastavaAffiliated withEpidemiology Section, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research

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In low- and middle-income countries, and across the world, the need to ensure local agricultural production and food security, while simultaneously protecting the population against health affects from pesticide exposure, has emerged as a major public health challenge. As agricultural production in Africa intensifies, and as pesticide use becomes more widespread, an increase of pesticide poisoning cases is to be expected (London et al. 2005). Acute poisoning by agricultural pesticides is currently an important cause of human morbidity and mortality worldwide, with some 25 million farm workers annually exposed to pesticides in developing countries (Jeyaratnam 1990). Developing countries use only 20% of the world’s agrochemicals, yet they suffer 99% of deaths from pesticide poisoning (Jeyaratnam and Chia 1994). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at the global level, 3 million severe pesticide poisoning episodes occur annually, and of these, a minimum of 300,000 people die, with 99% of cases being from low- and middle-income countries (Gunnell and Eddleson 2003). Japanese farmers use an estimated 400,000 t of pesticides per annum, and the number of deaths caused by such pesticide use is about 1,000 persons per annum (in the early 2000s; Nagami et al. 2005). The Poison Information Centre of the National Institute of Occupational Health, in Ahmedabad, reported that organophosphorus (OP) pesticides were responsible for the maximum number of poisonings (73%) among all agricultural chemicals (Dewan and Sayed 1998).