The study was aimed to determine the incidence of pesticide poisoning among rice farmers in Region VIII. Specifically, it was intended to determine the following: 1) pesticides commonly used by rice farmers in the region; 2) incidence of manifestations related to pesticide poisoning among rice farmers in relation to five demographic factors, such as: age, educational attainment, length of exposure to pesticides, number of relevant trainings attended, and smoking and drinking habits; and 3) incidence of manifestations related to pesticide poisoning among farmers and their households by province.
The descriptive method of research was used in the study. A self-structured survey questionnaire was used by a team of interviewers who personally interviewed 2,503 rice farmers in 28 rice producing municipalities and identified rice-producing barangays in the six provinces of Region VIII. Majority of the rice farmers in Region VIII was pesticide users, where 1828 out of 2503 or 73.03 percent were using pesticides. There were more pesticides users in So. Leyte than in other provinces. Next were in Biliran and Leyte, while the least was in N. Samar.
The ten most commonly used pesticides by farmers in order were Cymbush, Karate, Decis R, Thiodan, Porsnail, Parapest, Brodan, Bushwack, 2, 4-D, and Bayluscide. These pesticides classified under the family of organophosphates, carbamates, pyrethroids, and molluscicides, belong to hazard category II and III or moderately and slightly hazardous. Though they are comparatively more expensive, these pesticides are quite an improvement over those in the 70's and 80's because these are less hazardous, which is an indication of the government's efforts to regulate and control the sale and use of highly hazardous chemicals.
Incidence of manifestations perceived related to pesticide poisoning was greater with respondents aging 37-47 and 48-58 years old. These age ranges are the most productive years of farmers, thus exposing him more to the dangers of toxic particles in pesticides. The results of the study indicated that farmers' educational preparation partly affects the risks of pesticide poisoning. The least number of cases of 29 or 4.25 percent concerned farmers who were college level. Length of exposure to pesticides as an incidence of manifestation perceived is related to pesticide poisoning. Two hundred eight or 30.50 percent of cases were from respondents exposed for 18 or more years while only 79 or 11.58 percent were those exposed for less than three years. Three hundred thirty six out of 682 or 49.27 percent of the cases of manifestations were from respondents who had not attended any form of training on the use of pesticides. These imply the mediocrity of farmers' knowledge on the proper and safe use of pesticides, thus their tendencies to underestimate, overreact or exaggerate its health hazards. Three hundred fifty three out of 682 or 51.76 percent of manifestations were from respondents who smoke and 530 or 77.71 percent were from those who drink. These results indicate that smoking and drinking habits of farmers triggered manifestations.
The most common manifestations in the following order were chest and back pains, elevated blood pressure and paleness, blurring of vision, body weakening and numbness, skin lessions and or thickening, bronchial asthma and or chronic cough, colds, wheezing, nail destruction and or pitting, and least was difficulty of breathing. The pesticides that most farmers are using include organophosphates, carbamates, acetamides that could partly explain these manifestations, and molluscicides, which are causative agents of, said ailments. The researchers also noted that farmers in the region are only slightly Knowledgeable on the proper and safe use of pesticides. More so, some practices are clear misuses of toxic substances.
Only 152 out of 445 or 34.15 percent of the respondents who had manifestations, which they perceived, related to pesticide poisoning sought for assistance to alleviate his ailment. While, there were 293 or 65.84 percent who consulted somebody to alleviate his plight, instead preferred to keep it by himself because of financial reasons and according to them they can still bear the pain. Of the 152 who sought for other person's assistance, 139 or 91.45 percent consulted a physician, 3 or 1.97 percent from the midwife assigned in their barangay, and 7 or 4.61 percent from an albularyo or quack doctor.
The farmers also identified 143 victims of pesticide poisoning in varied barangays in the region. The most common causes were as follows: 1) spraying without protection, 2) use of unsafe/substandard spray equipment, 3) dood poisoning (such as eating fish caught with the use of pesticides), 4) smoking while spraying, 5) spraying with uncovered wounds, 6) unsafe storage of measuring spoon and other gadgets used in preparing the spray mixture, and 7) spraying against the wind.
Conclusions based on the findings for the study are as follows: 1) farmers in Region VIII are using the following pesticides, namely: organophosphates, carbamates, pyrethroids, acetamides, and molluscicides which belong to the moderatelay to slightly hazardous categories, with some for restricted use; 2) incidence of manifestations perceived related to pesticide poisoning were in one way or another related to farmers' age, educational attainment length of exposure to pesticides, number of relevant trainings attended, and their smoking and drinking habits; and 3) approximately one out of six farmers had manifestations perceived is related to pesticide poisoning.
Based on the findings and conclusions, the researchers recommended the following: 1) massive educational campaigns and or programs on the health hazards of pesticides should be made to farmers and other people in the community; 2) government health programs should cater to health problems related to pesticide poisoning among farmers such as providing rural health centers with manpower, facilities and equipment to fully diagnose farmer patients suffering from pesticide poisoning; 3) buying of pesticides should be on prescription basis; and 4) an in-depth study should be conducted where farmers identified with manifestations should be subjected to clinical diagnosis.