Pesticides use in gardening areas in Burkina Faso and evaluation of the resulting risk for the operator using the new AOEM proposed by EFSA guidelines
Pesticides are widely used in gardening to maintain high yield, prevent diseases and control pests and rodents. Field surveys conducted in Burkina Faso have underlined the lack of knowledge regarding good agricultural practices and the use of unsuitable and obsolete pesticides. Improper packaging and high illiteracy rate in rural areas also hamper the compliance with recommended doses, application rates and safety measures provided on original manufacturer’s labels. Pesticides operators are persons who mix, load and apply the pesticides. These phases are critical and present great risks in terms of pesticide exposure. In practice, exposure will be influenced by specific conditions under which pesticides are handled (packaging, environmental conditions, personal protective equipment, etc.). Because of their work, operators are subject to receive the greatest exposure which put them at higher risk for acute intoxication but also long term adverse health effects. The present study aims at assessing occupational exposure to pesticides in gardening areas and to develop a database of pesticides use in Burkina Faso. Many predictive models have been used in other areas to estimate operator exposure. In 2014, the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) Panel on Plant Protection and their Residues proposed a new guidance document that supports the use of a new predictive agricultural operator exposure model (AOEM) based on a statistical analysis of exposure studies conducted between 1999 and 2009. In order to supply the model with specific local data, a survey have been conducted on 460 gardeners located in four gardening areas. The questionnaires aimed at identifying culture types, agricultural practices (crop calendar, watering, etc.), pesticides use (type, quantity, frequency of application, equipment used, environmental conditions, etc.) and observed intoxication symptoms. Two complementary surveys directed toward pesticides resellers (n=25) and health care centers (n=20) have been conducted to identify pesticides available on local market and recorded intoxication cases.76 % of the quantity applied exceed the doses recommended by the manufacturer. 50% of gardeners wear no personal protective equipment (PPE) and 37% only a muffler in synthetic fabric. Two scenarios have been evaluated for acute and chronic risk: Current agricultural practices (S1) and Use of appropriate PPE (S2). The acute and chronic risk indexes exceed the unity for respectively 75% and 17% of the cases in S1 indicating that the acceptable operator exposure levels (Acute Reference Dose (ARfD) and Acceptable Operator Exposure Level (AOEL)) were exceeded. The risk index under the unity for nearly 98% of the cases in S2 indicates that the lack of proper PPE increases exposure inducing unacceptable acute and long term risks for the operator. As the knapsack model is not dependent on pesticide dose, this study underlines that availability of suitable PPE and training of the pesticides operators would drastically improve the situation.