Survey by vegetable growers in Kanchanaburi

(November 2002)

Trained farmers of Nongkrang village (Boproy, Kanchanaburi province) observed and interviewed 19 other vegetable farmers in their community. After these interviews were completed they met several times to analyze the results, which are presented here.

Analysis of pesticides used

Among the 19 farmers they found that 52 different brands of pesticides were being used, which contained 32 different active ingredients. During their analysis, the farmers sorted these chemicals according to the “WHO toxicity classification” and also according to the “chemical family”. Among the 32 chemicals were several highly toxic ones, including 7 chemicals belonging to WHO classes Ia and Ib. The list included 3 chemicals that are banned in Thailand (Azinphos-ethyl, Monocrotophos and Chlordane), 4 chemicals that are currently registered but on the “watch list”, and the controversial herbicide Paraquat. The use of these dangerous chemicals was quite common, with 16% of the farmers using chemicals belonging to class Ia and 42% using chemicals classified as Ib.

Table Pesticides used
19 vegetable growers used 52 different brands of pesticides, which contained 32 different active ingredients

Table toxic chemicals
Many farmers use very toxic chemicals in WHO class Ia and Ib.

Table chemical families used
Many of the chemicals used belong to the organophosphates and carbamates.

Pesticides stored in farm house
Each farmer uses many different pesticides.

Analysis of the volume and frequency of pesticide use

To get an impression of their exposure to chemicals, the farmers analyzed the amounts used. The results show that the 19 farmers together each year spray 111,800 liter of spray solution, which is on average 5,884 liter per person per year. The days that they are at risk to chemical exposure was on average 20.4 days per year (lowest 2 days, highest 52 days). There are clearly big differences between farmers and this exercise showed them who runs the highest risks.

Table Spay volumes
19 farmers together each year spray 111,800 liter of spray solution

Analysis of spraying behavior

The spraying behavior of 13 farmers was observed and analyzed. The results were used to initiate a discussion on the risks of coming into contact with pesticides. In this discussion it was emphasized that many pesticides can easily enter the body through the skin and that this is the most common way for farmers to get contaminated.

Farmer analyzes data
Farmers analyze their own observations on how they get contaminated with pesticides.

Empty bottle Methyl Parathion
Empty pesticide bottles are left behind in places where young children can pick them up. This bottle contained methyl parathion (WHO class Ia).

Table Protection used
Protection used by farmers

Signs and symptoms

Farmers carried out health studies to detect signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning. They did this by making observations before and after a spraying session. Data on signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning were analyzed from 19 farmers. The results (see tables on this page) were used to summarize the signs and symptoms in 4 levels. Even with this small sample size it is clear that the majority of farmers (58%) are experiencing moderate signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning.

Table Signs Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning.

Table Level of poisoning
58% of the farmers experienced moderate signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning.

Farmers observe farmers
Farmers observe and interview other farmers about signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning.

Farmer recording health data
Farmers note down their observations on body maps.

See also:

Survey by mango growers Phitsanulok