|Pesticide poisoning statistics|
Acute pesticide poisoning is acknowledged to be a serious global problem, and one almost exclusively confined to the developing world. Accurate statistics are not available. Deaths from accidental pesticide poisoning were estimated at 20,000 annually in 1990, whilst serious poisoning incidents requiring hospital treatment were estimated at 1 million. These figures are almost certainly underestimates, as they were based on hospital data, and many cases will not reach hospital, or be diagnosed correctly.
In the same report, deaths by intentional pesticide poisoning were estimated to be 10 times that figure. The ready availability of highly toxic pesticides in many countries contributes to a high suicide rate.
The International Code of Conduct for the Distribution and Use of Pesticides recommends that governments establish systems for post-registration surveillance of pesticide incidents. The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade also requires signatories to monitor and notify health and environmental incidents caused by ‘Severely Hazardous Pesticide Formulations ’.
While surveillance and monitoring of pesticide poisoning is widely recommended by most regulatory frameworks, this is very rarely implemented. Some states in the US have a system for proactively documenting and reporting on poisonings , but there is no equivalent in the UK, while in most developing countries the number of incidents is almost entirely unquantified . PAN lobbies for wider commitment from regulatory agencies (who approve the use of toxic pesticides) to following up their actual impacts during realistic conditions of use. PAN’s report Living with Poison on endosulfan poisoning in West Africa contributed to a regional ban of the chemical in 2008, based on its health and environmental impacts.
Links for further reading
Acute pesticide poisonings in Nicaragua
Acute pesticide poisoning: a major global health problem