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Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig 2017, 68(2): 175-183

Association between blood cholinesterase activity, organophosphate pesticide residues on hands, and health effects among chili farmers in Ubon Ratchathani Province, northeastern Thailand.
[Association between blood cholinesterase activity, organophosphate pesticide residues on hands, and health effects among chili farmers in Ubon Ratchathani Province, northeastern Thailand.]

T. Nganchamung, M.G. Robson, W. Siriwong

ABSTRACT
Background. Use of pesticides has been documented to lead to several adverse health effects. Farmers are likely to be exposed to pesticides through dermal exposure as a result of mixing, loading, and spraying. Organophosphate pesticides (OPs) are widely used in most of the agricultural areas throughout Thailand. OPs are cholinesterase inhibitors and blood cholinesterase activity is used as a biomarker of OP effects.

Objective. This study aims to determine the association between blood cholinesterase activity and organophosphate pesticide residues on chili farmer’s hands and their adverse health effects.
Materials and Methods. Ninety chili farmers directly involved with pesticide applications (e.g. mixing, loading, spraying) were recruited and were interviewed face to face. Both enzymes, erythrocyte acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and plasma cholinesterase (PChE), were tested with the EQM Test-mate Cholinesterase Test System (Model 400). Hand wipe samples were used for collecting residues on both hands and OP residues for chlorpyrifos and profenofos were quantified using gas chromatography equipped with a flame photometric detector (GC-FPD).
Results. The average activity (±SD) of AChE and PChE was 2.73 (±0.88) and 1.58 (±0.56) U/mL, respectively. About 80.0% of the participants had detectable OP residues on hands. The median residues of chlorpyrifos and profenofos were found to be 0.02 and 0.03 mg/kg/two hands, respectively. Half of participants reported having some acute health symptoms within 48 hours after applying pesticides. When adjusted for gender, number of years working in chili farming, and frequency of pesticide use, AChE activity (Adjusted OR = 0.03, 95%CI: 0.01-0.13) and detected OP residues on hands (Adjusted OR = 0.15, 95%CI: 0.02-0.95) were significantly associated with having health effects, but no significant association was found in PChE activity (Adjusted OR = 2.09, 95%CI: 0.63-6.99).
Conclusions. This study suggests that regular monitoring for blood cholinesterase and effective interventions to reduce pesticide exposure to prevent health effects should be provided to chili farmers.  

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