Pesticide-Related Illnesses in Washington


Washington State Department of Health
Pesticide Program
1-888-586-9427

Public Health
Always working for a safer and healthier Washington

Pesticide Program



Illness Surveillance / Prevention

DOH, Pesticide Program



Investigations of Pesticide incidents – 2001 data*

DOH compared to enforcement agencies



*Pesticide cases investigated as reported in the 2003 WA annual PIRT report

Distribution of 2001 cases* by County




*cases considered definitely, probably, or possibly due to pesticide exposure

DOH classification of investigated cases 2001 data



Definite, probable, possible

Causal relationship must be plausible:

  • Signs and symptoms documented during investigation are consistent with the known toxicology of the pesticide(s) involved.
  • The time of symptom onset and pattern must be plausible for the exposure documented.
Level of confirmation of exposure/health effect

Definite + objective evidence of exposure + objective clinical evidence of health effect
Probable
1    
2    
Possible Report by case, witnesses, spray records Two or more symptoms reported by HCP or case

DOH cases* 2000-2001 data




*cases considered definitely, probably, or possibly due to pesticide exposure

Tip of the Iceberg?

Nature of exposure
Agricultural cases, 2000-2001 cases*



*cases considered definitely, probably, or possibly due to pesticide exposure

Activity of person exposed
Agricultural cases, 2000-2001 cases*



*cases considered definitely, probably, or possibly due to pesticide exposure

Exposures to Pesticide Residues
Agricultural Cases, 1995-1999



Systemic and Topical Illness/Injury* Trend
Agricultural Handlers and AChE Inhibitors




*cases considered definitely, probably, or possibly due to pesticide exposure
** Handler = mix, load, or apply, repair spray equipment

Top crops involved
Agricultural cases, 2000-2001



*cases considered definitely, probably, or possibly due to pesticide exposure

Key prevention messages Agricultural cases


  • Target prevention in apples, potatoes
    • Handlers – eye protection, other PPE
    • Drift reduction to protect field workers/bystanders
    • More attention to field residue exposure (are re-entry intervals followed, protective?)
DOH case 020005



Photo: Doug Wilson, ARS photo gallery

  • 24 y/o male
  • Licensed applicator
  • October chemigation for potatoes
  • Shift is from 5PM to 4 AM
  • Checks application every 2 hours
Pesticide involved
  • Metam sodium (Sectagon 42) (Forms MITC in soil, fumigant)
  • Possible replacement for methyl bromide
  • Known irritant to eyes, respiratory, skin
DOH Case 020005
  • Full PPE (respirator and suit) while in field
  • In his pick-up truck 100 ft from field when he wasn't checking the field (no PPE)
  • Fell asleep in truck after shift (4 AM)
  • Awoke at 10 AM - strong smell in truck
  • Temperature inversion
Health effect

Initial symptoms
  • Burning in lungs and throat
  • Chest tightness
  • Went to ER, same day
  • Chest X-ray: negative
Medical follow-up
  • Recheck at 7 days
  • Dx. Exposure to inhaled irritant/mild bronchospasm
  • Prescribed inhaler
  • DOH followed - 8 wks
    • c/o Burning in lungs
    • c/o Shortness of breath
DOH Actions
  • Classified “Possible”
  • DOH provided case description to EPA during metam sodium re-registration .
  • Letters of support for research into drift reduction and alternatives to chemigation for potato field fumigation



Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More

BACK TO TOP