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Daily News Archive
From February 21, 2001

CA DPR Reports Increase in Pesticide Poisoning Incidents

California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released 1999 data of pesticide injuries in the state, which DPR collects and analyzes, under the direction of the California Environmental Protection Agency, to identify trends in pesticide poisoning incidents. The report, Summary of Results from the California Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program, identifies 1,201 suspected or confirmed cases of pesticide injury in 1999, up 203 reports from 1998 data. Other than 1998, the total number of illnesses reported in 1999 was the lowest since 1986.

According to the report, 555 reports, or 46 %, pesticide illnesses were related to agricultural exposure incidents and 646 reports, or 54%, were related to non-agricultural exposure incidents. Occupational exposures accounted for 804, or 67%, of the cases received by DPR. The most common pesticide poisoning incidents were due to pesticide drift, with 570 cases. The DPR states that most of the total increase from 1998 to 1999 could be attributed to a single drift incident in the town of Earlimart in Tulare County. A total of 63 cases reported to DPR involved children aged ten or younger. Field worker pesticide incidents declined to 134 reports in 1999, compared to 170 in 1998, a continuous downward trend since the 1980s.

DPR and the county agricultural commissioners, the primary pesticide poisoning incident investigators, reported a 10% increased in illness investigations from the previous year. Because many pesticide related illnesses go unreported, the surveillance program is not a completely accurate account of all pesticide poisonings in the state. The reporting system catches only a fraction of the actual poisoning incidents.

For information on DPR's 1999 pesticide illness data summary see http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/dprdocs/pisp/1999pisp.htm or contact California DPR's Worker Health and Safety Branch at 916-445-3974.