Public Health Seeking Reports of Acute Pesticide Illness and Injury

The North Carolina Division of Public Health, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, wants to learn more about how pesticide use may affect those who live and work in our state.  Public Health is tracking acute pesticide-related illness and injury because pesticides are designed to be toxic agents, use is widespread and overexposures can result in both acute and long-term effects if products are not handled as directed.  

Who is at risk? 

EPA reports that large quantities of conventional pesticides are used in agriculture and in homes; almost three-fourths of United States households use pesticides (1).  Populations at highest risk include the elderly, children, and those engaged in agricultural activities such as farmworkers, pesticide handlers (often farmworkers who work under an applicator’s license) and pesticide applicators on and off the farm. 

How to report?

They are asking health providers to report all suspected or confirmed cases of acute pesticide illness or injury to the North Carolina Pesticide Incident Surveillance Program.  North Carolina public health law (10A NCAC 41F .0101 – .0103) requires physicians to report.  Nurses and other support staff, under direction of the treating provider, can also report.  Reporting is easy. Call Carolinas Poison Center (CPC) 24/7, at 1-800-222-1222. Poison control specialists have been trained to ask questions that will fulfill reporting requirements. Advice regarding recognition and treatment of pesticide illness is also available from CPC. Please call the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch with questions at 919-707-5900. 

 The benefit to your patients and Public Health? 

Receiving information from physicians is an important first step in the pesticide surveillance process. Reporting ensures that incidents are recorded and investigated.   When Public Health learns about an occupational exposure or a serious exposure that occurs at home, that person is offered exposure prevention advice.  Interviews are also conducted to identify factors contributing to harmful exposures. Surveillance data is periodically analyzed and shared with those engaged in risk reduction activities.


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