Training Cooperative Extension Agents in Risk Assessment/Risk Communication of Pesticides and Agrochemicals

  • LaFollette, Sharron;
  • Jones, Martin

Concerns over pesticide and agrochemical exposure are on the rise in the agricultural community and in the general public. In order to provide much needed risk communication in this area, the state of Illinois developed a one-day workshop for cooperative extension agents entitled "Risk Assessment and Risk Communication of Exposure to Pesticides and Agricultural Chemicals." The workshop, jointly conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and the Illinois Department of Public Health, has been presented by the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service in several areas throughout the state. The cooperative extension agents were targeted for this workshop in an effort to reach the agricultural and gardening community, as well as the general public, with risk information on pesticide and agrochemical exposure. These cooperative extension agents work directly with the agricultural and gardening community and more recently have found themselves answering questions from the general public regarding exposure to pesticides in the urban setting (lawn chemicals, residues on food , and contaminants in groundwater and surface water). The workshop provided general background on the risk characterization of agrochemical exposure in a variety of settings: occupational, recreational gardener, food, and potable water supplies. Emphasis was placed on the basic toxicological principle of "dose makes the poison" to assist in the development of sound risk communication strategies. Discussed will be the key components of the workshop, how to adapt the workshop to the needs of the participants, using case studies for hands-on experience in risk communication, and participant feedback from the Illinois workshops.

This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

S. Lafollette, Illinois State Univ., Normal, Illinois; M. Jones, USEPA Region 5, Chicago, Illinois.

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