Administering and working around pesticides is often a part of working in agriculture. While these products are very effective in protecting crops from pests, they can also cause health problems for those who are constantly exposed to them.
Short-term effects of pesticide exposure can range from relatively mild stinging eyes, rashes and blisters, to more severe conditions such as blindness, falling into a coma and even death. Similarly, long-term effects—or those that may not become apparent until later in life—can include infertility, neurological disorders and cancer.
Because many symptoms of pesticide exposure can resemble the common flu, workers may not even realize they’ve been exposed until symptoms worsen, thus becoming more difficult to treat medically. Simply washing with soap and water immediately after an exposure event can reduce the chances of suffering these effects, underscoring the need for a quick response after exposure.
The Do’s & Do Not’s
Other safety tips that should always be observed to protect from adverse health effects include:
- Following directions on the label for the attended use and application.
- Noting first-aid instructions in case of accidental poisoning.
- Following directions on the label for proper storage or disposal after use.
- Not using pesticides in winds stronger than 16 km/h.
Additionally, wearing protective gear is one of the best lines of defence against exposure to chemicals. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, non-absorbent gloves, rubber boots, hats, eye protection, masks, aprons, face respirators and dust mist filters are all beneficial while applying pesticides. Clothing should also be checked beforehand for defects or holes that may allow pesticides to reach the wearer.