A study of workers in pesticide formulating plants/ industries in Nairobi and the surrounding areas
Pesticides are used by farmers for purposes of gaining the most out of their land in terms of higher productivity and higher profits. They are also used by man to control disease vectors. The use of pesticides worldwide has been increasing rapidly due to the need to feed a bigger world population and also increased use in vector control. Most pesticides are not selective and are capable of harming both the target pests and other species as well. Pesticides can be harmful to man at any stage of contact beginning from the manufacturing stage, transportation, application and later, as residues in food and water. The study was done to evaluate the possible effects of pesticides on workers in the pesticide industries and the safety measures used against contamination and poisoning both by the management of the industries and the workers. The study was done between November 1988 and April 1989 and was carried out in Nairobi and its surroundings. The research was descriptive in nature and was carried out by interviewing the workers and by observations. The results were recorded on a pre-tested questionnaire and analysis was by computer. There were eight factories visited with a total of 91 workers interviewed. The results showed that the pesticide industry in this country is mainly male dominated with only 16% of the workers being female. Most of the workers interviewed had a low level of education and no institutional training. Most of the industries provided the workers with some form of protective clothing although medical supervision was not done by some of the industries. Of the workers interviewed, 34% had sought medical assistance for the complaints related to the pesticides they handled while 12% had b~en hospitalized. The workers had medical complaints related to the skin, the respiratory tract, the central nervous system and the gastro-intestinal tract. 79% of the workers got at least one medical ch~ck-up per year while 80% had their blood tested for activity of the enzyme acetyl cholinesterase. The recommendations made are applicable to the pesticide formulators/manufacturers/distributors, the factory inspectorate and the pest control board.