Summary of Illnesses and Injuries Reported in California by Physicians in 1986 As Potentially Related to Pesticides

  • Edmiston, Susan;
  • Maddy, Keith T.


As a result of legislation in the early 1970's, physicians are required to report all cases of illness or injury which may have been a result of exposure to pesticides. The California Department of Food and Agriculture receives these reports through a variety of reporting mechanisms and compiles them into an annual data base. In 1986, 2099 illness/injury reports were received by the Worker Health and Safety Branch of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. After investigation by he County Agricultural Commissioners' staff, 1065 (51%) were determined to be confirmed cases of occupational illness/injury related to pesticide exposure. In addition, there were also 146 (7%) cases of non-occupational pesticide-related illness/injury, 424 (20%) cases determined to be unrelated to pesticide exposure, and 464 (22%) cases for which there was insufficient information to determine a cause and effect relationship. The number of confirmed cases of pesticide-related illness/injury decreased by nearly 30% from the corresponding 1985 figures. This apparent decrease is an artifact of the classification scheme employed for 1986. The change is primarily a result of a reduction in the number of field worker cases determined to be confirmed pesticide-related exposures. In previous years most investigations of pesticide application history for grape vineyard worker dermatitis cases were confined to a history from the last field worked prior to visiting a physician. This method assumes no latency period between exposure and onset of symptoms and/or that the worker immediately visited a physician at the onset of symptoms. Based on field studies conducted in 1986, it was determined that grape vineyard workers with dermatitis rarely visit a physician as soon as symptoms are noticed; they often wait for a week or more. In addition workers often cannot remember an exact field location coinciding with the onset of symptoms. Thus, a field application history of the last field worked prior to seeing a physician for medical attention could be misleading in determining a relationship between pesticide exposure and the dermatitis experienced. For 1986, unless evidence identified a specific vineyard as the location of the onset of dermatitis, the cases were classified as cases with insufficient information to determine a relationship If this type of case had been handled in a manner similar to last year, the number of cases would have been similar. Of these 464 cases with insufficient information, 318 involved dermatitis experienced by field workers in grape vineyards. These cases represent a real problem to vineyard workers. However, the causal role of pesticides cannot be determined at this time. Further investigation including a prospective epidemiology study is planned.


Vet Hum Toxicol. 1987; 29(5): 391-397.

Note: Veterinary and Human Toxicology.

NLOM ID#: 88072033 .

Publication #: 88072033

This document was extracted from the CDC-NIOSH Epidemiology of Farm Related Injuries: Bibliography With Abstracts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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