PAN UK Project: Ukraine field trip initiates study to identify common exposure routes to pesticides E-mail
Between 10 and 13 of November 2014, Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) visited Ukraine to work with local partners, All-Ukrainian Environmental League (UEL) to initiate a study to identify risky practices and common exposure routes to pesticides.

The study in Ukraine is part of a broader effort to collect information on pesticide exposure and acute pesticide poisoning across six countries in the former Soviet Union. The study will not only focus on the people who handle pesticides, but on others who live and work on the farm and may be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of pesticides on their health. Women, children and seasonal workers, in particular, may be at increased risk due to a variety of behavioural, physiological and social factors.

One element of the study is a Knowledge, Attitude and Practice survey, which has been developed and tested over the last few months. The baseline data on pesticide exposure will be shared with regulatory decision-makers in the region and used to support communications and awareness raising activity in order to reduce risk among target groups.

UEL and PAN UK staff met teachers and pupils at Vyshcheol'chedaiv Secondary School, Vinnitsya Region, to talk about environmental issues, and PAN UK Toxicologist, Dr. Rina Guadagnini gave a presentation on routes of pesticide poisoning. (Photo: PAN UK)

Local farmer, Victor Olszewski, accompanied us to his fields explaining which crops he grows and his plant protection strategies. (Photo: PAN UK)

Workers using pesticides on Victor’s farm are trained, use basic protective equipment and have access to washing facilities near the fields. (Photo: PAN UK)

Pesticides dumped in derelict farm buildings, like this one in Vinnitsya Region, pose a contamination risk. The pesticides are a left-over of the Soviet era, having been dumped there for over 20 years. The bags, most likely containing organophosphate pesticides, have no labels and are broken, allowing pesticides to be transported by wind and to leak into the soil when it’s raining. With a water source about 300m from this dump, the risk of water contamination is real. Local farmers occasionally take some of these pesticides to treat their crops, which is highly hazardous for the farmer and, potentially, for the consumer. (Photo: PAN UK)

PAN UK Toxicologist Dr. Rina Guadagnini being filmed for local TV giving a presentation on pesticide poisoning to the Vinnytsia Regional Institute of Postgraduate Pedagogical Education of Employees. (Photo: PAN UK)

PAN UK Toxicologist Dr. Rina Guadagnini and UEL Deputy Head Olena Pashchenko undertaking a pesticide mapping exercise with farmer students (mostly women) at the Vinnytsia Regional Institute of Postgraduate Pedagogical Education of Employees. By drawing a map of this student’s home farm, the group were able to identify and discuss both the overt and the hidden dangers of pesticide exposure. (Photo: PAN UK)

PAN UK Toxicologist Dr. Rina Guadagnini and UEL Project Manager Oksana Martinova interview the owner of one of two licensed pesticide shops visited in Vinnitsa City. (Photo: PAN UK)

A meeting with the L.I. Medved’s Research Center of Preventive Toxicology, Food and Chemical Safety, Ministry of Health, Ukraine, provided a useful insight into their research on pesticide exposure in the Ukraine. Pictured (L-R) Oksana Martinova (UEL), Yulia Sereda (Green Cross Belarus), Olena Pashchenko (UEL), professor G.M. Balan (Director, Institute Clinical Department), Mikhail Malkov (FAO Co-ordinator for Ukraine) Dr. Rina Guadagnini (PAN UK). (Photo: PAN UK)

Further information

PAN UK Project: Reducing pesticide risks and promoting alternatives in the former Soviet Union

Project funded by the European Union (EU) and the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), this project is part of a wider programme: Improving capacities to eliminate and prevent recurrence of obsolete pesticides as a model for tackling unused hazardous chemicals in the former Soviet Union.

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