BACKGROUND: Over the past years there has been an increase in the use of pesticides in developing countries. This study describes pesticide use among small-scale farmers in Uganda and analyses predictors of pesticide poisoning (intoxication) symptoms. METHOD: A cross-sectional study was conducted using a standardized questionnaire. Some 317 small-scale farmers in two districts in Uganda were interviewed about pesticide use, knowledge and attitude, symptoms of intoxication, personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene. The risk of reporting symptoms was analysed using logistic regression analysis. RESULTS: The most frequently used pesticides belonged to WHO class II. The farmers had poor knowledge about pesticide toxicity, and the majority did not use appropriate PPE nor good hygiene when handling pesticides. There was no significant association between the number of times of spraying with pesticides and self-reported symptoms of pesticide poisoning. The only significant association was between blowing and sucking the nozzle of the knapsack sprayer and self-reported symptoms of pesticide intoxication (OR: 2.13. 95% CI: 1.09 - 4.18). CONCLUSION: Unlike the practice in several other developing countries, small-scale farmers in Uganda do not use the most hazardous pesticides (WHO class 1a and 1b). However use of WHO class II pesticides and those of lower toxicity is seen in combination with inadequate knowledge and practice among the farmers. This poses a danger of acute intoxications, chronic health problems and environmental pollution. Training of farmers in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods, use of proper hygiene and personal protective equipment when handling pesticides should be promoted.
African Health Sciences, 2014, Vol 14, Issue 2, p. 420-33