- The purpose of this research was to analyze the available pesticide poisoning data in Oregon from 1994 to 1998 in order to obtain a descriptive account of general incident information and of occupational exposures. These data were to be used by the Pesticide Analytical and Response Center for planning preventive strategies to reduce pesticide poisonings. Specific data from the five-year period were retrieved from two different software systems, dBaseIV and SPIDER, a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Institute program. They were then reconciled to each other, and analyzed with SPSS Version 10 for frequency information. Percentages from frequencies, and in some cases, population-based rates, were then calculated.
Results indicated that the population usually affected by pesticides each year was non-Hispanic, female, and 40 to 49 years old. More pesticide poisonings took place in non-occupational settings than occupational settings for the five-year period as a whole. However, when reviewing each year, there were more occupational cases than non-occupational cases in 1994, 1996, and 1998. Marion and Multnomah counties experienced a higher number of poisonings than other counties. However, when rates per 100,000 people were calculated, Wheeler and Wasco, which are both rural, were the top two ranking counties, with rates of 12.7 and 4.4 respectively. Organophosphate insecticides were involved in poisonings more than other pesticides, with chlorpyrifos as the active ingredient most frequently seen for the five-year period. The target organs more frequently affected were those of the central nervous system, followed by the gastrointestinal system. Occupational incidence information showed that the top three occupations with greater frequencies of pesticide poisonings were general clerk, registered nurse, and farm worker. It was determined that all occupations were potentially at some risk of pesticide poisoning. Some occupations had work tasks that provided more exposure to pesticides and could be classified as high-risk, such as farm workers. Other typically low-risk occupations, such as nurses and general clerks, were exposed to pesticides from patients who were poisoning victims or exposed to unacceptable levels of residue as a result of structural spraying.
Non-Hispanics were shown to have experienced the majority of pesticide poisonings for the five-year period, with almost 62% of the total poisonings. Pesticide poisonings for Hispanics were shown to be only 8% of the total poisonings. Limitations in the study existed due to missing race data, which prevented the calculation of population-based rates to obtain a clearer picture. Thirty one percent of the total pesticide poisonings for the five-year period were not classified by race. The year 1994 showed the highest levels going unreported with respect to race with almost 72% of that year's total poisonings. Further, the low frequencies of poisonings found in the Hispanic population and statements from other state health departments suggested under reporting of exposures may have occurred.
It is recommended that the Pesticide Analytical and Response Center assures that all required data are collected in order to produce accurate surveillance information; discussions with Washington be conducted to standardize report collection and summarization between the two Northwestern states for comparison purposes; population and chemical use information be obtained to assist in producing more useful results; and communication with the Hispanic population through various avenues be made to assure that under reporting is reduced.