The Exposure of Farmers and Their Families to Pesticides in an Agricultural Community

Discussion Committee: 
Dr. Nidal Zatar- Supervisor
Dr. Ansam Sawalha- Co- Supervisor
Dr. Raqi Shubietah- Internal Examiner
Dr. Amal Al- Hudhud- External Examiner
Dr. Nidal Zatar
Dr. Ansam Sawalha
Maysoon Tahsin Abdel Raouf Alfaris
Continuous use of chemicals such as pesticides has resulted in harmful effects to the environment, caused human illness, and impacted negatively the agricultural production and its sustainability. Farmers and their families are likely to be exposed to agricultural chemicals, even if they are not involved in farm activities. They have higher chances for exposure, directly or indirectly, to pesticides. Analysis were conducted on forty three of soil samples collected from several places such as open fields, inside the greenhouses, and nine dust samples collected from the houses, the pesticides stores, and the vehicles of the farmers in the area. Soil and dust samples were collected from three agricultural areas in eastern Nablus district i.e. Al-Fara'a, Al-Bathan, and An-Nassariyya. The samples were analyzed for the presence of the most widely used pesticides by the farmers in the study area. The samples were analyzed using gas chromatography/ mass spectrometry GC/MS. The detected pesticides were methamidophos, chlorpyrifos, penconazol, endosulfan, and triademanol. Most of the analyzed samples showed considerable residues of the five pesticides. A questionnaire was developed to assess the knowledge, attitude, practice and toxicity symptoms related to pesticide practice among fifty farmers in the area. Analysis of the returned completed questionnaire revealed that there was a relation between answers of it and the pesticide residues in the soil and dust of the study area. It was concluded that most of the farmers and their families reported suffering from toxicity symptoms due to the exposure to extensive amounts of pesticides. Additionally, farmers reported that they have misused and mishandled these pesticides despite their knowledge about the adverse impact that could result. The highest percentage of self-reported toxicity symptoms was found among the farmers who do not wear protective clothes during the pesticides applications. Prevention and intervention programmers would include health education regarding the use of protective gear and monitoring the health status of farmers exposed to pesticides.
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