Developing Countries: Pesticide Health Impacts

Authored by: Aiwerasia V.F. Ngowi , Catharina Wesseling , Leslie London

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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The use of potentially hazardous chemicals is increasing in developing countries whose populations have the least capacity to protect themselves. The World Health Organization estimated three million cases of acute pesticide poisoning and 220,000 deaths annually worldwide a decade ago, the majority in developing countries with relatively few studies of long-term health effects of pesticide exposure among working populations in developing countries. Underestimations of acute and long-term effects of pesticide in developing countries occur due to under-diagnosis and/or underreporting. As a critical public health tool for the control of pesticide poisoning, surveillance in developing countries is bedeviled by multiple problems such as lack of access to health care for poisoning survivors, lack of human resources, diagnostic skills and equipment to identify cases, and weak information systems. The lack of human and technical resources in developing countries is aggravated by the global brain drain and weak economies. Vulnerable economies and weak infrastructure in developing nations hinder their ability to regulate the use of pesticides, particularly when macroeconomic pressures promote deregulation and restrict public spending required to implement regulatory controls. Pesticides banned or restricted in developed countries are often easily available in developing countries. Agricultural policies in many of these countries have emphasized short-term economic gains at the expense of environmental sustainability or human health. Farmers and farm workers rarely have access to adequate training in pesticide safety or advice on the complicated management of pesticides. This entry explores the impact of pesticides on health in developing countries.

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