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Farmers working with pesticides at greater risk of neurological and health problems

Ireland’s leading PPE and Workwear Company urges farmers to ensure they are properly protected

A leading Irish company is urging farmers and others who operate pesticide sprayer applications to be aware of new Irish legislation. From 26TH November 2015 all operators of chemicals and sprays must be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. The move has been welcomed by leading PPE company Portwest as a recent study in the US of over 19,000 farmers revealed those working with pesticides have a greater risk of developing neurological problems and other side effects.

Pesticides play an important role in farming however many are known to have negative side effects on people as well as on the environment. The study was conducted by Freya Kamel of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and examined a range of symptoms, ranging from headache and fatigue to memory loss problems.

The study, which examined the long term effects of pesticides, found that farmers with a higher lifetime exposure to pesticides had more neurological and health problems. Other short terms problems encountered include, accidental inhalation of pesticides and skin and eye irritation.

Sean Ryan, Horticulture development manager with HCT Learning, a specialist Health and Safety training company in the Southeast of Ireland says “One of the areas we are involved in at the moment is for the pesticide application training, specifically regarding the purchase and application of pesticides and herbicides. More work needs to be done to ensure that farmers are made aware of what equipment and clothing they should wear while handling chemicals, such as the proper types of masks and gloves and clothing to be worn as skin contact and the breathing in of fumes are the biggest risk factors.”

During pesticide spraying, unintended exposures can occur in the general area where pesticides are applied. Very low levels of exposure are proven to have adverse health effects. Symptoms are often very subtle and may not be recognised immediately.

Portwest has developed special Pesticide handling kits that guarantee the safety of farmers when handling poisonous substances. The first of its kind on the market for farmers and other sprayer operations, the Irish company which is run by the Hughes family from Westport in Co Mayo are Europe’s most trusted name in work-wear, personal protective equipment, safety footwear and leisurewear.

Portwest employs over 2,000 staff worldwide and have offices in Ireland, the UK, Poland, Germany, Dubai, China, Bangladesh and the USA.

Specialist Pesticide handling kits are available from all main agri-stores