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Program and Abstracts: The Seventeenth Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE): Abstracts

STUDY ON HEALTH HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH ENDOSULFAN SPRAY IN CASHEW PLANTATION IN KERALA, INDIA

Jayadevan, S; Jayakumary, M; Venugopalan, P P.; Binoo, D

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ISEE-159

Introduction:

The village near Kasaragod district, in the Kerala state in Indian union, has been affected by an unusually high number of cancer deaths, neurological disorders and a range of physical and mental impairments. Reports from other studies done in the area indicate a strong link between this spraying of a pesticide called endosulfan and the deteriorating health of the local people. These villages are affected by an unusually high number of young adults with congenital neurological disorders and children with cerebral palsy and mental retardation. In the government school at Vaninagar, nearly 40% of the children who come from the endosulfan exposed area show definite symptoms of illness ranging from cerebral palsy and physical abnormalities to mental retardation.

Aim:

This study has been conducted to assess the disease spectrum in the endosulfan sprayed area.

Methods:

This survey was conducted in Enmakaje panchayat of Kasaragod district where 45000 hectares of cashew plantation exist. A comparative study was also done to know whether similar characteristics also exist in other panchayat.

Results:

During and immediately after spraying, there is an alarming increase in allergic reactions in people living close to the exposed area. Skin reactions, respiratory problems, vomiting, giddiness and headache were common complaints in the area. The total number of houses surveyed was 250; and 60% to 80% of the inhabitants are affected by this spraying. The commonest problems observed were cancers and gynaecological problems, including infertility and regular miscarriages. There is concern over the acute toxicity of endosulfan.

Discussion:

The World Health Organization classifies endosulfan as a category-2 (moderately hazardous) pesticide. The US Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as category- 1b (highly hazardous) pesticide. It is readily absorbed by the stomach, the lungs, and through the skin, meaning that all routes of exposure can pose a hazard. Another concern, especially in developing countries, is that people with diets low in protein may be more sensitive to the effects of this pesticide. Details of the study will be presented at the conference.

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