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Keokuk County Iowa Rural Health Study: Self-reported Use of Pesticides and Protective Equipment

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. Special Issue (1):67-77 . (doi: 10.13031/2013.15376) @1998
Authors:   S. J. Reynolds, J. A. Merchant, A. M. Stromquist, L. F. Burmeister, C.Taylor, M. Q. Lewis, K. M. Kelly
Keywords:   Pesticide, Agriculture, Exposure assessment

The Keokuk County Rural Health Study is a unique, population-based, prospective study of an agricultural community in Iowa. The research includes in-depth evaluations of respiratory disease, injury, and other health outcomes in relation to environmental and occupational exposures. This article reports descriptive findings on pesticide use from among the first 653 participants completing occupational surveys. Thirty-one percent of respondents (farmers and non-farmers) had applied insecticides, and lawn and garden chemicals at home during the past year. Forty-one percent of respondents had personally mixed or applied farm chemicals during their life. Eleven percent had a current pesticide applicators license, but only 1% worked as a custom pesticide applicator. Information on the specific types of pesticides and protective measures used were obtained for the 95 individuals who had mixed or applied pesticides on farms within the previous year. Of these individuals, 69% worked with fertilizers, 52% with herbicides, 48% with crop insecticides, 44% with crop storage insecticides, 26% with livestock insecticides, and 11% with fungicides. The use of personal protective equipment such as gloves, aprons, and respirators varied depending on the chemical. A significant proportion did not use gloves even for mixing. Thirty-four percent reported at least one symptom after working with pesticides during the previous year. In addition to providing a detailed description of pesticide use by farmers in this midwestern population, these data will be used to evaluate exposure-response relationships in conjunction with health outcome data from the Keokuk County Rural Health Study.

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