Introduction Pesticides have a wide application in agriculture, landscaping, pest control services and others, to control pests, weeds, and other organisms that pose a threat to agricultural production and the health of the public. Acute occupational pesticide poisoning is a persisting challenge to these workers, many of whom are vulnerable and suffer adverse health consequences negatively impacting their ability to work. Surveillance is critical to identifying cases, sites, and mechanisms to target interventions.
Methods Cases of acute occupational pesticide poisoning were identified and linked across the Illinois hospital discharge and the poison control center databases from 2010–2015 on the variables; exposure agent, date of admission, age, gender, variable and zip code of residence. Data was analyzed by SAS (v.9.3; Cary, NC).
Results 358 cases of acute occupational pesticide poisoning were identified; 50 cases were overlapping. The majority of cases were from structural, rather than agricultural uses. Most exposures were due to toxic effects of ‘unspecified pesticides’ such as herbicides, fungicides (60%) and gases, fumes or vapors (36%) per the ICD-9 diagnoses codes. The main route of exposure was by inhalation (40.2%). Males and female exposures were 65% and 33% respectively. Most workers were aged between 20–30 years.
Discussion 66 cases per year is low compared to other agricultural states. Use of multiple data sources in the absence of a robust reporting system can be informative and guide interventions. It is essential that acute occupational pesticide poisoning is adequately captured to estimate its burden and guide interventions for prevention and control. Healthcare providers and data registers must be encouraged to document the work-relatedness since workers can then access workers’ compensation insurance and preventive efforts can be better targeted. Data linkage provides a useful method for estimating the incidence, and enhancing the surveillance of acute pesticide poisonings among workers.
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