Pesticide use and safety practices among Greek tobacco farmers: a survey.Int J Environ Health Res. 2006 Oct; 16(5):339-48.IJ
An attempt was made to explore knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards safety issues of pesticide handling among tobacco farmers of the rural area of Pieria in northern Greece. From the 310 survey questionnaires that were mailed out, 223 were received fully and correctly completed resulting in a quite satisfactory response rate of 72%. A large majority of the farmers (96%) viewed pesticides as a guarantee for high tobacco yields and high product quality. Almost all farmers (99%) thought that pesticides can have serious adverse effects on users' health. Skin contact was recognized as the most common route of exposure during pesticide use (58%). Despite awareness of potential health risks by pesticide handling, a significant proportion of the farmers (46%) reported not using any special protective equipment when spraying pesticides. From those who reported that they use protective equipment, most stated that they normally use a hat (47%) and boots (63%). Only few farmers reported using a face mask (3%), gloves (8%), and coveralls (7%) on a regular basis. The reasons for not using protective equipment during pesticide handling were that protective equipment is uncomfortable (68%), too expensive to buy (17%), time-consuming to use (8%), not available when needed (6%), and not necessary for each case (2%). A large majority of the farmers (84%) said that they replace work clothing when it wears out and a considerable part (48%) stated that they wash work clothing after several uses. Although farmers' knowledge of potential hazards by pesticide use was high, the reported safety measures were poor. Continuous emphasis on the basic safety precautions required when using pesticides and on the importance of protective equipment is essential for changing wrong habits of farmers which can be hazardous for their health.