pesticide exposure, pesticide surveillance, pesticide prevention, health departments, health providers, pesticide exposure response skills



  1. Tutor, Robin P. BS, MPH, OTR/L
  2. Zarate, Max A. MSc, MPH, PhD
  3. Loury, Sharon PhD, RN


Background: In 2006, the NC Division of Public Health reported on the prenatal occupational pesticide exposures of three female migrant farmworkers whose newborns had birth defects. Unknown response capabilities from local health departments to pesticide exposures led to this pilot study to determine the skills of staff in eastern NC health departments regarding pesticide exposure surveillance and prevention.


Methods: Randomly selected staff (n = 193) from seven health departments participated in the study. Using a self-administered questionnaire, data were gathered on staff's pesticide education, knowledge of resources to assist with pesticide issues, frequency of pesticide surveillance/education activities linked to routine services, and pesticide exposure prevention behaviors that were screened/educated for.


Findings: Twelve participants were environmental health staff. All staff completed an average of less than 0.17 pesticide education courses, have minimal knowledge of resources, and conduct limited pesticide exposure surveillance/education. Pesticide exposure surveillance and prevention activities were reported by less than 30 percent of all staff.


Conclusions: Inadequately trained staff lack access to, or knowledge of, resources to effectively engage in pesticide exposure surveillance and prevention activities. Recommendations: To enhance information on surveillance and epidemiology of pesticide chronic exposures at the NC Division of Public Health and to conduct further data analyses of this study.