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Oral Session 13 – Acute/chronic effects

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C. Solomon, J. Poole, K. Palmer, D. Coggon.MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

Introduction: In Britain, despite tight regulation on use of pesticides, anecdotal reports of symptoms following their use are not uncommon. However, it is unclear how frequently such illness occurs, and to what extent it is a manifestation of acute toxicity. To address this question, we analysed data from a community based postal survey of work and health among men aged 25–69 years in three rural regions of England and Wales.

Methods: Data were available for 10 697 (33%) of the men eligible for study. Among other things, these covered occupational use of sheep dip, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and wood preservatives; the occurrence of each of 12 symptoms within 48 hours of using each class of pesticide; and the extent to which the subject had been bothered by seven diverse somatic symptoms in the past week (taken as an index of somatising tendency). Analysis focused on the 4109 men who indicated that they had at some time used pesticides occupationally.

Results: Altogether, 936 men (23%) reported at least one symptom within 48 hours of using a pesticide. The relative frequency of different symptoms was similar for each class of pesticide, as was a tendency for clustering of multiple symptoms. In two regions, including one where there had been much local publicity about possible adverse effects of sheep dips, all symptoms were markedly more common in relation to dipping of sheep (31% of users compared with 6–11% following the use of other pesticides). In the third region, symptoms in relation to sheep dip were less common (13%) than following the use of insecticides (15%). Report of symptoms in relation to multiple classes of pesticide was much more frequent than would …

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