BIOLOGICAL MONITORING OF PESTICIDES EXPOSURE AMONG AGRICULTURAL WORKERS IN MAURITIUSA.H. SUBRATTY, S. BURAKUTH AND C. REESAUL
Pesticides intoxication is most frequent among exposed workers in the agricultural island of Mauritius. In this study we have interviewed and measured erythrocyte cholinesterase activity, haematological indices and trace elements mainly zinc and copper status on 123 pesticides sprayel.s. Forty-two non-farmers, who were not directly exposed to pesticides, were used as control. Changes in pH were used to monitor erythrocyte cholinesterase activity. Blood films were microscopically examined and haematological indices were measured using a Coulter counter. Zinc and copper levels were determined by atomic absorption spectro-photometer. All data were analysed statistically using Microsoft Excel. Pesticides workers were divided into three groups depending on pesticides usage : one group sprayed herbicides only, the other applied the insecticides malathion only and t he last group were exposed to herbicides, insecticides and fungicides (MY). Those in the 1111: and inalathion groups has a significant decline in erythrocyte cholinesterase activity as compared to control (p 0 05), whereas no such decrease was detected in the herbicides group (p 0.05). However, occurrence of pesticides poisoning symptoms did not differ significantly among the three pesticides groups (p > 0.01). Our results showed thnt workers in herbicides and HU groups were deficient in iron. Zinc and copper levels were also significantly lower in these two groups as compared to the control and malathion group (p < 0.05). A high incidence of eosinopli ilia was also encountered in the three pesticides exposed groups (p < 0.01). It was concluded that decrease in copper level, possibly caused by carbamate chelation, might have induced iron deficiency in these workers and a high incidence of eosinophiaia could indicate immunotoxic effects of pesticides. The study further reiterates the i iii portance of adopting basic protective measures during pesticides spraying by agricultural workers in Mauritius.
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