Pesticide-Related Illnesses in California Increase Between 2001, 2002
Between 2001 and 2002, the number of people possibly sickened by pesticides in the state more than doubled from 616 to 1,316 cases, according to a report released last week by the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the report, about 60% of reported pesticide illnesses involved job-related exposure, and more than 50% of those involved the use of agricultural pesticides. DPR investigated five deaths in 2002, three of which were found to be related to pesticide exposure. Kern County was found to have the most reports of pesticide illness with 443 cases. Glenn Brank, a spokesperson for DPR, attributed the increased number of overall cases in part to improved reporting through a partnership with the California Poison Control System, a statewide initiative promoting poisoning education, prevention and treatment. The 2002 numbers also reflect two separate incidents in Kern County in which 373 people suffered "suspected or confirmed pesticide-related illnesses" resulting from the application of the soil fumigant metam-sodium, according to the Times. Brank said the report was not intended to represent a "complete picture of pesticide illnesses" but rather to provide data to "guide our overall programs ... to prevent future illnesses." Eric Cardenas, head of a program aimed at reducing pesticide-related health risks, said he was pleased that the report "reflected the state's effort" to improve tracking of pesticide-related illnesses. Cardenas added that the partnership between CPCS and DPR ended in late 2002 and said that future cases of pesticide-related illnesses might go unreported (Alvarez, Los Angeles Times, 2/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.