PANUPS: European Ag Workers Survey

                         P A N U P S
                   Pesticide Action Network 
                        North America
                       Updates Service
                   EMAIL: panna@panna.org

July 14, 1997

Survey of European Agricultural Workers 

Results from a survey of agricultural workers in Europe show 
that these workers need improved training in pesticide use as 
well as ongoing health surveillance. At least one respondent 
in five reported that they have been poisoned or adversely 
affected by pesticides. The European Federation of 
Agricultural Workers (EFA) commissioned PAN Belgium to 
conduct the survey of EFA members' concerns about pesticide-
related issues. PAN Belgium received and analyzed over 1,230 
individual replies. The Federation has approximately two 
million members in fifteen countries of the European Union. 

The survey shows that workers are poisoned by pesticides 
before, during and after application. Seventy three percent 
of the incidents reported in the survey occurred during 
mixing, loading and application of pesticides (application 
accounted for 39%). The remaining 27% of incidents occurred 
after pesticides were applied -- for example, through 
handling contaminated equipment after use or re-entering 
sprayed areas. Symptoms most often reported by workers were 
headaches (67%), skin irritation (39%), stomach pains (33%), 
vomiting (30%), eye irritation (25%) and diarrhea (15%).

Among those poisoned, 53% informed their employer but only 
27% informed the appropriate government authorities (workers 
often found difficult it to identify the agency responsible). 
In 46% of cases, workers who were poisoned required medical 
intervention, either a consultation or hospital visit. 

Approximately 77% of the workers' surveyed stated that 
personal protective equipment is generally available, but 
only 35% reported that they were using the equipment at the 
time of a reported incident. Eighty-eight percent of the 
respondents said that they had received training in proper 
use of pesticides; however, 54% had received only one day or 
less of training.

In March 1997, The European Federation of Agricultural 
Workers held its second colloquium on the health and safety 
of pesticides in Almeria, Spain. Resolutions from European 
member unions called for:
-- Recognition of the hidden costs of pesticides due to 
health and safety hazards for users.
-- Action to press the agrochemical industry to finance a 
permanent occupational health research and surveillance 
-- Inclusion of the principles of democracy, transparency, 
precaution and sustainability in European laws and 
initiatives related to pesticides.
-- Action by EFA to promote safer and ecologically sound 
agricultural products and practices.

Source: Pesticide News 36, June 1997. (The quarterly journal 
of The Pesticides Trust.)
Contacts: EFA, Rue Fosse-aux-loups, 38-Bte 8, B-1000 
Brussels, Belgium.
The Pesticides Trust, Eurolink Centre, 49 Effra Road, London 
SW2 1BZ, UK; phone (44-171) 274 8895; fax (44-171) 274 9084; 
email pesttrust@gn.apc.org; 

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