Objectives This study aimed to compare the work practices and health effects of pesticide exposure between full time and part time vegetable farmers.
Methods Data gathering was done via structured personal interview using a nine page questionnaire, physical examination and blood extraction for complete blood count and serum creatinine.
Results Pyrethroid was the top pesticide type used by both groups. The risk for full time was related to both the amount of exposure and the type of pesticide the group is exposed to. There were more full time farmers who complained of getting or who fell ill because of work. This difference was statistically significant (p=0.05). This health seeking behaviour was significantly different for both groups (p=0.01). In assessing for the individual component of the neurologic exam, 5.22% from full time farmers, and 8.63% from part time farmers had abnormal cranial nerve function, 22 (5.7%) and 9 (6.47%) have abnormal motor strength. All farmers tested for reflexes, meningeals, and autonomics from both groups were normal. For the haematologic examination, the full time farmers had higher mean values for creatinine, white blood cell, red blood cell, haemoglobin, and haematocrit. The activity of cholinesterase enzymes in the blood can be utilised as a biomarker for the effect of organophosphates. Out of the 232 blood cholinesterase results, 94 (40%) were abnormal.
Conclusion The study showed certain differences between full time and part time farmers in terms of farming practices and health related problems. Education on safe pesticide use and handling and better health monitoring of the farmers are recommended.