The Health of Ag Farmers and Families

Have you ever wondered if farmers are more apt to get chronic illnesses from applying pesticides? Well here is a study that looks at pesticide applicators versus the non farm population. Dr. Fred Fishel has summarized the findings of the Ag Health Study which has looked at this question for some years.

The study is being conducted in Iowa and N. Carolina and with collaboration between the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The study has looked at 89,000 participants to investigate the effects of environmental, occupational, dietary, and genetic factors on the health of the agricultural population.

Some of the findings are that farm families had more pesticide residue within the home than non-farm families. This suggests that farmers or their families are bringing pesticides into the homes via contact with pesticides or material that has contacted the pesticides.

Another study connected diabetes to those who used seven pesticides: aldrin, chlordane, heptachlor, dichlorvos, trichlorfon, alachlor, and cyanazine. The study also reaffirms the link between obesity and diabetes.

Although some of the findings are not good, it was found that farmers are generally healthier than their non-farming counterparts and farmers have a lower risk of colrectal cancer.

I believe that as farmers we should try to find ways to better protect the health of our selves, families, and communities. Use this information to minimize contact with pesticides, follow the label for proper pesticide use, use BMPs, follow restricted entry intervals, and protective equipment. And just food for thought...you might want to kick off your shoes before entering into your house. This simple step might prevent pesticides associated with soil from entering into your home. For more information on this topic, here is the link to the IFAS EDIS summary is http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/PI/PI21600.pdf and the link to the agricultural health study is http://aghealth.nci.nih.gov/.

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