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Pesticides are compounds widely used in agriculture, due the productive efficiency increase. However, these toxic compounds can exert negative effects to environment and human health. This work aim was analyzing the occupational exposure of rural workers to pesticides, through a descriptive-analytical study
with cross-sectional and quantitative approach. The sample consisted of 63 farm workers. Socioeconomic profile characterization, pesticide management, and health conditions was carried out through interviews. After biological samples collection, erythrocyte acetylcholinesterase enzyme activity was assessed in two
moments: pre- and post-exposure to pesticides in one of planting and harvesting cycle. Rural workers age mean was 48.1 ± 7.6 years. They reported using personal protective equipment, although incompletely or inadequately, and 46% reported pesticide poisoning. Mood disorders such as anxiety (50.3%) and depressive state (27.0%) were also reported by workers. There was a significant decrease in the activity of the erythrocyte acetylcholinesterase enzyme from 0.83 ± 0.06 delta pH/hour to 0.71 ± 0.11 delta pH/hour (p < 0.05). Individual comparison of enzyme activity values showed that 19.6% of the workers were intoxicated with carbamate and organophosphate. Contamination is attributed to the inadequate
management of pesticides. Adopting measures to minimize intoxications and other harmful effects on the health of rural workers is considered urgent.
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