Assessment of exposure of pest control operators to pesticides in selected centres in Nigeria

OLAIFA, J.I

ABSTRACT: The study is a profile of a sample of 135 pest control operators (PCOs) from 24 Federal and State Institutions, private and multinational companies in Nigeria with regard to their training, experience on the job, relative use of spraying equipment, work outfit, personal hygiene and health complaints. Majority (83%) of the PCOs were adults between 30-50 years of age, who learned on the job. The PCOs engaged mainly in the control of field insect pests (48.1%) and weeds (27.4%). About 50.0% worked part-time and 41% worked only during the rainy season. Rubber boots and overalls were the most popular clothing items and only 24.1% of the PCOs were fully satisfied with their work outfit. Improvements were needed on the shirt and trousers and on the cap for PCOs dealing with tree crops. Up to 54.2% of their work outfits were washed
along with their household laundry. The commonest spraying equipment used were knapsack sprayers which after use were cleaned by 77.1% of the PCOs themselves or by 22.9% of the junior workers. Symptoms suspected to be related to pesticide exposure have been experienced by about 29% of the operators, yet 94.3% have never had their cholinesterase level tested. These findings are discussed in relation to pesticide legislation, education and training in Nigeria.

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