- 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
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.