Pesticide poisoning is a global public health problem. Annually, 3 million people are hospitalized due to pesticide poisoning with over 250,000 deaths all over the world 1. With the growing population and rapid industrialization in Qatar, there has been a natural increase in pesticide usage and hence, exposure amongst the workers handling them. It is therefore vital to not only understand the existing knowledge, attitudes and practices about handling pesticides, but also to explore the effectiveness of measures like education and personal protective equipment on the general well being of the workers. We hypothesize that training the workers to handle pesticides is vital in maintaining high safety standards, thereby preventing associated toxicity while handling them that the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) improves the general health of pesticide handlers in the long run.


100 municipality employees in Qatar who work with pesticides, were interviewed in person by trained bilingual staff using a structured questionnaire model (Table 4). The questionnaire included basic demographic data, questions related to methods of pesticide storage, retrieval, application and disposition, usage of PPEs, adherence to safety practices and views of the worker on the company safety protocols and their implementation. The data was then entered into excel format and analyzed using descriptive statistics and associations inferred by odds ratios.


The mean age of the workers was 37.4(SD-9.9)(Table1). Amongst workers nearly 2.9 % of them who did not use personal protective equipment visited hospital annually when compared to 1.4% of workers who used personal protective equipment (Table 2). Of the interviewed workers 81.1% did not know the contents or the name of the pesticides they were handling at work (Table 3). Unsafe behaviors such as preparation of pesticides at the site of its usage rather than in a specified preparation room (29.6%), noncompliance with wearing protective clothing (38.8%), handling of drinking water (22%) and food (10%) on site where pesticides are used and not washing clothes every day after work (45.9%) were observed. Around a quarter of the interviewees did not receive any training on preparation and handling of pesticides (Table 3). Workers who received training in pesticides usage were more likely to be aware of its effects on the environment (61.6%)(OR–3.9), less likely to eat or drink while handling pesticides(83.6%) (OR–4.3) and more likely to give household members appropriate instructions prior to application of pesticides (90.4%)(OR–5.0)(Table3).Workers who did not wear special protective clothes at work were found to be, more than twice as likely to visit hospitals per year, than those who wore(RR-2.2)(Table3). A third of the workers were not aware if their company had safety protocols in place, whereas a similar proportion felt no such protocols exist.


Unsafe practices were found to be significantly common amongst the personnel using pesticides in Qatar. Workers who received prior training, handled pesticides with better safety standards, highlighting the importance of training in pesticide handling. Wearing protective clothing most likely has a positive impact on the general well being of the workers.


Improved safety standards, municipality workers, pesticide exposure, protective clothing.

Resources 1-World Health Organization

The Impacts of Pesticides on Health: Preventing Intentional and Unintentional Deaths from Pesticide Poisoning (fact sheet) 2- Gunnell, David and Eddleston, Michael. “Suicide by intentional ingestion of pesticides: a continuing tragedy in developing countries.” International Journal of Epidemiology 32 (2003): 902–909.

Table 1 (DEMOGRAPHIC DATA) Demographic variables (n = 100) Percentage* Age Less than 20 1 21 to 35 48.9 36 to 50 36.7 More than 50 13.3 Mean 37.4 years Education Primary 33.7 Secondary 44.9 Not educated 11.2 Other 8.2 Number of years working with pesticides < 1 11.2 1 to 5 30.6 6 to 10 24.5 >10 32.7 Living with Family 14.3 Friends 30.6 Colleagues 54.1 Children 0.00 Other 2.0 *Total may not be 100% if there were missing values

Table 2 (Comparison of variables for those wore special protective clothes to those who didn't) Variable Wore Special protective clothes (n,%) Did not wear(n,%) Number 59(59) 38(38) Age(mean) 37.4 37.5 Education Primary 27(45.8) 5(13.2) Secondary 20(33.9) 24(63.2) Not educated 8(13.6) 3(7.9) Years Working with pesticides < 1 5(8.5) 6(15.8) 1–5 20(33.9) 10(26.3) 6–10 14(23.7) 10(26.3) >10 20(33.9) 11(28.9) Co morbid conditions 16(27.1) 9(23.7) Knowledge on content of pesticides Yes 7(11.9) 11(28.9) No 52(88.1) 27(71.1) Any training received? Yes 46(77.9) 27(71.1) No 13(22.0) 11(28.9) Average hospital visit/year 1.4(0.8–1.9) 2.9(1.9–4.1)

Table 3 (ODDS RATIO) Variable Trained in pesticides (n = 73) Not trained in pesticides (n = 24) Odds Ratio with 95%CI Workers view on effect on environment YES 45 7 3.9(1.4 to 10.6) NO 28 17 Do not handle food/water at site 61 13 4.3(1.6–11.9) Wear special clothes 46 13 1.4(0.6–3.7) Knowledge of contents in pesticides present 16 2 3.1(0.7 – 14.5) Instruction to Household members 66 15 5.7(1.8–17.6) Washing clothes after work 40 13 1.02(0.41–2.59) Average visits to hospital/year 2.05(1.35–2.77) 2.04(0.68–3.41)

Table 4 (RESPONSE TO QUESTIONNAIRE IN PERCENTAGE) Affirmative response Do you know the contents of the pesticide you are using? 18.4 When spraying inside do you give any instructions to the household members? 82.7 If yes what are they? Stay away from home 56.3 Don't prepare food at home 7.5 Don't get into the room for a specified period of time 35 Pesticides are poisonous 1.3 Where do you prepare the pesticides? On site 29.6 Comes prepared 3.1 Preparation room 58.2 Other 0.00 Did you receive any education on how to prepare/apply the pesticides? 74.5 If yes, who educated you? Foreman 19.7 Supervisor 40.9 Senior co worker 27.3 Other staff 12.1 When were you educated? At the start of job 55.3 Periodically 28.7 Where do you store the pesticides? Home 0.00 At the site 15.3 Buy and use immediately 1.0 Specific store 83.7 How do you dispose the containers? Yourself 15.3 By the company 73.5 Other 6.1 Do you wear special protective clothes, while using the pesticides? 60.2 Do you wash your clothes daily after work? 64 Do you wash them separately? 59 Powder 75.5 Solid tablets 41.8 Spray 74.5 Liquid 26.5 Smoke 33.7 Other 3.1 Which form of pesticide do you use out door? Powder 52.6 Solid tablets 38.1 Spray 82.5 Liquid 32.9 Smoke 60.8 Other 1.0 What personal protective equipment are you using? Masks 95.9 Gloves 93.9 Clothes 67.4 Shoes 83.7 Goggles 51.0 Other 2.0 Do you know the effects of pesticides? On Humans 81 On the environment 53 Pesticides can be absorbed through? Skin 46.3 Mouth 75.8 Inhalation 93.7 Other 6.3 Pesticides have? Only acute effects 42.3 Only chronic effects 14.4 Both 29.9 Neither 13.4 In case of accident exposure, what do you do? Wash with water and soap 78.5 Drink milk 13.3 Call ambulance 8.1 Go to hospital 11.2 Inform supervisor 7.1 How do you dispose this equipment? General waste 28.9 Specific site for disposal 25.3 Company does it 30.1 Plastic bags 6 Reuse/keep it to oneself 3.6 During application, do you? Eat 10.3 Drink 22.7 Both 1.0 None 76.3 After application, do you wash hands? 98.9 Do you have any co morbid conditions? 25.5 Are you taking any medications? 20.4 How many visits to the Health care/E.D/Admissions per year? 1.9(1.4–2.5) Are there any safety protocols at your company/work place? Yes 29.6 No 39.8 Don't know 30.6 Is your Company/Employer strict about compliance of safety protocols? Yes 48.5 No 23.7 Don't Know 27.8 If any untoward incident occurs, are they documented/informed to respective officials? Yes 43.9 No 43.9 Don't Know 13.3 Did you ever witness any case of sever morbidity or death in your company workers due to pesticide poisoning? Yes 17.4 No 82.7 Does your company provide compensation for pesticide poisoned workers? Yes 1.0 No 40.8 Don't Know 58.2.


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