Introduction The French West Indies are in the tropical zone, which favours the appearance of many pests and plant diseases, but also a significant development of weeds. All these reasons make the use of plant protection products (PPPs) very important which involves a potential high occupational exposure to PPPs by the farm workers.
Method The Matphyto-Antilles project consists on constructing retrospective occupational exposure indicators for PPPs for farm workers and to identify global health effects due to this exposure. A crop exposure matrix (CEM) specific to banana has been built. This CEM lists the use of PPPs on bananas in the two French islands: Guadeloupe and Martinique. Over the last 50 years, the chemical families and/or active substances used on this crop have been identified and 3 exposure indicators have been assigned: a probability, a frequency and an intensity of use. Data of the banana CEM was matched up with the data provided on a specific agricultural census of the Antillean population over the four available years (1981, 1989, 2000 and 2010). Simultaneously a toxicological database listing all the health effects of PPPs authorised in France since 1960 has been established following a methodology based on the toxicity reference values.
Results By matching these different databases, numerous occupational exposure indicators were produced such as the number of farm workers exposed over time and a breakdown by gender, chemical family, substances. The main used PPPs were also linked to health effects including carcinogenicity and endocrine disruption. Our results are useful to implement increased security measures and preventive actions.
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