EVALUATION OF PRACTICES AND SELF- REPORTED TOXICITY SYMPTOMS OF PESTICIDES HANDLERS: A SURVEY OF KISUMU COUNTY, KENYA
Keywords:Pesticides, practices, toxicity symptoms, diseases, Kisumu, Kenya
Pesticides use in modern agriculture has significantly increased productivity and quality of yield but has also brought negative effects on human health and the environment. Exposures to these chemicals occur through inhalation of vapour, ingestion/oral and dermal/contact. Their effects to human differ depending on the degree and duration of exposure. This study was conducted to evaluate pesticides handlers’ practices and self-reported toxicity symptoms among 80 stockists and 384 farmers. Results indicate that the majority 378 (82%) handlers changed clothing before and after pesticide exposure, 67 (14%) did it occasionally while 19 (4%) never changed their clothes. There was significant association between changing of clothing before and after pesticides exposure and the level of education (χ2 = 14.682; p < 0.01) and position at work (χ2 = 9.168; p < 0.01) and hours of working (χ2 = 10.311; p < 0.03). A total 409 (88%) handlers always had a place to wash hands next to where they store or handle pesticides. There was significant association between participants’ age and availability of washing area (χ2 = 37.325; p < 0.00). Skin itching, coughing, sore throat/ throat irritation were significantly associated with skin and respiratory diseases respectively (RR > 1). Skin diseases resulting from itching and respiratory diseases as a result of coughing and throat irritation can be reduced by 63%, 57% and 79% if exposure to pesticides is reduced by use of appropriate PPEs. Handlers should be trained on effective PPE use and their provision by employers made mandatory. In addition, training on alternative pest control methods such as Integrated Pest Management should be promoted to minimize pesticide use and eventually minimize exposure to pesticides.