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Consequences of the inappropriate use of professional grade pesticides: an analysis using National Poisons Information Service pesticide surveillance survey data

Author/s Perry L, Bennett A, Adams RD, Jackson G, Thomas SHL, Thompson JP, Vale JA, Eddleston M
Year 2014
Type of publication Conference proceeding

Objective: Professional grade pesticides are more hazardous than their consumer grade counterparts and should only be used occupationally. It is legally required that those who use professional pesticides receive training/certification and use protective equipment. National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) surveillance has historically indicated a high incidence of non-occupational use of professional pesticides. Our objective was to evaluate the repercussions of such inappropriate use. 

Method: The NPIS has monitored pesticide exposures as part of a pesticide surveillance study since April 2004. Data is collected by monitoring NPIS unit calls and TOXBASE® accesses. The WHO/IPCS/EC/EAPCCT poisoning severity scores (PSS) for exposures relating to both occupational and non-occupational use of professional products were analysed.

Results: Between April 2004 and April 2013, information on 7052 unintentional pesticide exposures was collected; 1312 were due to professional products. Of these exposures, 643 (49%) were reported as occurring during non-occupational use, 556 (42.4%) during occupational use, and in 113 cases circumstances were unknown. The severity grading for these exposures is shown. Most non-occupational exposures elicited none or few features. Significantly more occupational exposures resulted in the development of PSS 1/2 (X2 = 128.889, d.f. = 1, p < 0.05). Severe or fatal cases were uncommon for both exposure types.

Conclusion: Occupational exposure to professional grade pesticides was more likely to result in the development of features of poisoning; usually of minor or moderate severity.


  • Persson H, Sjöberg G, Haines JA, et al. Poisoning severity score. Grading of acute poisoning. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1998; 36:205–213. 
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