Environmental Pollution and Health Effects of Chemicals in Developing Countries: A Study on Pesticide Problem in Malaysia

Research Project , Research Report 2002

Kazuhito YOKOYAMA1 Professor, Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, Mie University, JAPAN
Associate Professor, Department of Public Health, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo
Yasuki KOBAYASHI Professor, Department of Public Health, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo
Hajime SATO Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo
Shunichi ARAKI President, National Institute of Industrial Health, JAPAN. Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo(Research Partners)
Rusli Bin NORDIN Professor, Department of Community Medicine, School of Medical Sciences, and Deputy Dean (Postgraduate and Research), School of Dental Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia Health Campus, MALAYSIA

Abstract

Environmental pollution of chemical substances has become a significant health problem in developing countries. In the present study, the health effects of pesticide in relation to safety behavior were studied among tobacco-growing farmers in Kelantan, Malaysia. The following results were obtained: Among non-smokers, urinary cotinine levels in farmers were significantly higher than those of controls; farmers with urinary cotinine of 50 ng/ml/m2 or above showed eye symptoms more frequently than those below this level (p<0.05). Farmers who did not wear protective equipment had subjective symptoms more frequently than those who used the equipment (p<0.05); some of these symptoms were seen more frequently in organophosphate (Tamaron) users than in non-users. Furthermore, farmers with high exposure to pyrethroid showed significantly increased complaints of muscle weakness (p<0.05). As tobacco farmers evidence a risk of nicotine poisoning from tobacco leaves, assessment including Green Tobacco Sickness together with effects of pesticides will be necessary; pyrethroid pesticides seem to have adverse health effects though they are believed to less toxic in humans.

Keywords:

Developing countries, environmental pollution, health effects, pesticides, safety handling practice, nicotine, Green Tobacco Sickness