Pesticides exposure and the use of personal protective equipment by cocoa farmers in Ghana
Environmental Systems Research
The hazards of pesticide exposure have been a growing concern globally. The increase of susceptibility of farmers to pesticide intoxication is due to lack of knowledge regarding safe and proper pesticide handling. The aim of this study was to evaluate cocoa farmers' pesticide exposure by assessing the ways in which they store pesticides, operational habits exhibited during and after pesticide application and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) during pesticide application in the
... ication in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. Methods: Two hundred and forty (240) cocoa farmers were randomly selected and interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Results: Majority of the farmers were aware of the negative effects of pesticides on their health and the environment if not well handled. Despite the awareness, most farmers did not handle pesticides with care and do not adhere to the use of PPE, hence, increasing their risks to danger of exposure to pesticides. Storage of pesticides in bedrooms was reported by 22.5 % of farmers; an indication of a high risk of pesticides exposure through direct inhalation. Cocoa farmers' in the study area exhibited operational habits such as eating, drinking water and alcohol, smoking cigarette and tobacco pipes, chewing gum and sticks, talking, using the mouth to remove blockages from sprayer nozzles, stirring pesticides with bare hands, among others during pesticides application. The survey revealed that only 35 % of farmers put on full PPE while 45 % put on partial PPE [which is any or combination of the following; cap/hat, respirator, goggle, rubber glove, overall and wellington boot (rubber boot)] during pesticides application. On the other hand, 20 % of farmers in the study area applied pesticides without wearing PPE. These practices expose farmers to adverse health risks. Factors that influenced farmers' decision to use PPE included farming experience, age of farmer, access to extension service, availability of a chemical shop, farm size and educational level. Conclusion: The results indicate high risks of exposure of cocoa farmers in the study area to toxicity and health hazards of pesticides due to mishandling and habits exhibited during pesticide application. There is a need to improve habits of safe use and handling of pesticides among farmers through education and training. There is also a need for education on the use of PPE during pesticides application to avoid exposure and health hazards.