Studies carried out on the occupational exposure to paraquat of plantation workers in Malaysia comprised quantitative estimates of dermal and respiratory exposure of knapsack spray operators, carriers, and rubber tappers operating under their normal working conditions. Spray operators have been shown to be dermally exposed to paraquat by walking through recently sprayed vegetation and into their own spray, regular adjustment and unblocking of spray nozzles and leakage, and overfilling of knapsack spray tanks. Carriers also received measurable dermal exposure from walking through recently sprayed vegetation and accidental spillage when carrying and loading. The infrequent and negligible dermal exposure of tappers resulted from walking through recently sprayed vegetation. Determinations of the total airborne paraquat concentrations in the breathing zone show that spray operators and carriers are exposed to an order of 1% or less of the current TLV for respirable paraquat. No paraquat was detected in the breathing zones of tappers working in simultaneously sprayed blocks. The calculated ranges of dermal and respiratory exposures, when compared with published data on both the exposure to, and the toxicity of, paraquat, indicate that there should be no toxicological risk to any of the three groups studied as a result of using paraquat.
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