In each hospital, at least two officer-level medical staffs doctors or nurses were designated as enumerators for data collection. The enumerators checked the patient register of the respective emergency departments every day and followed the acute pesticides poisoning cases, if any, for data collection. Study variables included socio-demographic characteristics of poisoning cases, circumstances of poisoning, characteristics of the pesticides abused, treatment and outcome status. Descriptive analysis using Statistical Package for Social Sciences The Chi-square test was applied to test statistical significance of categorical variables.
We reported the incidence rate of acute pesticides poisoning for Chitwan District. Among them A very similar pattern in proportions Females constituted double the pesticides poisoning cases than the males male: female ratio was The mean age of the patients was About three-fourth Two-third of the cases was females and more than two-third Disadvantaged ethnic group In a majority Among adolescent cases, Other socio-demographic variables did not vary significantly from intentional and non-intentional poisoning by pesticides Table 2. The mid-year population of Chitwan District population at risk in the year was estimated to be , [ 21 ].
The incidence rate of acute pesticides poisoning in Chitwan District was This is equivalent to The annual incidence rate was higher among females The annual incidence was higher among urban residents Among the ethnic groups, it ranged from The incidence of intentional pesticides poisoning The majority The median time of poisoning was Nearly all cases Most The pesticides responsible for poisoning were mostly insecticides Herbicides and fungicides comprised only a small proportion of the cases.
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The common constituent chemicals were: organophosphate compounds Carbamates, organochlorides and dinitrophenyl derivatives contained in smaller proportions Table 4. While 63 While most of the cases The median hospital stay duration among total hospitalized cases was 4. Among the hospitalized cases, The median duration of ICU stay was 4. Among these cases, 4. In terms of severity, Among the total hospitalized cases due to pesticides poisoning, The outcome status of 38 8. The case fatality rate, therefore, is 4.
Acute poisoning by using pesticides remains to be a major cause for emergency visits to the hospitals in developing countries [ 8 , 13 , 16 , 18 , 25 , 26 ]. This prospective hospital-based study explored the situation of pesticides poisoning in an agriculture intensive-district of Nepal.
The study population was the total number of pesticides poisoning cases who had visited the hospitals during the study period. This study showed female predominance in acute pesticides poisonings, which was also a result revealed through prior studies conducted in Nepali hospitals [ 14 , 18 , 27 ].
Not just in the case of pesticides poisoning, females have outnumbered males in acute poisonings of other kinds as well, studies have found [ 28 , 29 ]. Women are more vulnerable to suicide attempts than their male counterparts in developing countries due to factors like domestic violence, abusive spouse, problematic love and marital relationships and unfavorable socio-cultural practices [ 7 , 25 , 30 ].
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Moreover, females are more likely to be engaged in impulsive acts of self-harm [ 7 ]. In contrast to higher rural suicidal rates found in several Asian countries [ 8 , 31 ], a lower rate of pesticides poisoning was observed among rural residents in Chitwan. Higher rates of pesticides poisoning might have been observed among urban residents due to classification bias in defining rural and urban settings as the municipalities of Chitwan District also include villages in the process of urbanizing.
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The rates were higher among socially disadvantaged ethnic groups like the Dalits lower caste groups. Social disadvantages, economical deprivation and inequalities are positively associated with higher rates of suicide [ 8 , 32 , 33 ]. This age group of the population has been found to be at a high risk of self-poisoning from pesticides for attempted suicide in previously conducted South-Asia-based studies as well [ 7 , 25 ]. Moreover, this age group includes adolescents, students and early career beginners who usually face psycho-emotional problems involving failure in academics, unemployment, economic hardship, difficult love affairs, family pressure etc.
Such issues give individuals a negative outlook towards life and are positively associated with suicide attempts [ 25 , 26 , 30 ]. Due to lack of defined population at risk, the calculation of incidence rate for acute pesticides poisoning is difficult in hospital-based studies. Almost all cases of medical emergencies including pesticides poisoning from Chitwan District generally attend or are referred from other hospitals to the study hospitals.
The calculated incidence rate of acute pesticides poisoning in Chitwan District comprised only of cases who attended the study hospitals. So, this study might have missed cases who did not consult the study hospitals or those who stayed at their homes ignoring minor symptoms of acute pesticides poisoning which is mostly common in occupational pesticides exposure [ 34 , 35 ] or those who died before reaching the hospitals.
So, the actual incidence rate of acute pesticides poisoning in Chitwan District could be higher than that was calculated in this study. The study revealed that pesticides poisonings were more likely to occur during evening hours.
Almost all cases had been exposed to pesticides in their own homes and most of them intentionally self poisoned to attempt suicide. Pesticides are becoming the first choice of method of suicide in many developing countries [ 11 , 18 , 27 , 29 ]. The possible explanation of the timing of pesticides consumption could be psychological conditions such as stress and loneliness during evening hours.
Easy access to pesticides at home may stimulate suicidal ideation [ 36 , 37 , 38 ]. Even in agriculture-based developing countries, the proportion of acute pesticides poisoning from occupational exposure is very low when compared to the use of pesticides for intended self harm [ 14 , 39 ]. In Nepal and other under-developed countries, farmers in rural regions are engaged in subsistence level agriculture. Although there is pesticides act and regulation to regulate and control of pesticides handling and trade in Nepal [ 21 ], in practice, there is no restriction on buying pesticides from the market; and people mostly store their own supply of pesticides within the premises of or nearby their homes.
Therefore, easy availability and accessibility of pesticides increases intentional use of pesticides for suicide attempts [ 5 , 7 , 8 , 25 , 36 ]. One study in rural China indicated that the availability of pesticides at home can trigger suicidal attempts among those who really did not want to die [ 38 ].
Farmers can have minor acute symptoms due to occupational pesticides exposure as expected symptoms, and hence, they may not generally seek medical consultation [ 34 , 35 ]. In contrast to this, in case of intentional use of pesticides and accidental exposure, family members seek emergency medical services immediately; even if the swallowed dose of pesticide is not fatal.
This could be a reason why the study has shown a very small proportion of occupational pesticides poisoning. The most commonly used pesticides for poisoning were insecticides and rodenticides; common chemical types were organophosphorous, pyrethroids and zinc phosphides. Other studies in Nepal also concluded with similar results [ 14 , 18 , 27 ]. These chemicals are the mostly used pesticides in Nepal. Zinc phosphide, a rodenticide is readily available even in general convenience stores in Nepal.
Chitwan District has easy access to medical care compared to many other parts of Nepal. So, most of the cases visited hospital within a short period of exposure to pesticides and before complications arose. The fatality rate was lower in comparison to the findings from previous studies in Nepal and other Asian countries [ 12 , 14 , 15 , 18 ]. Timely consultation with doctors and the availability of appropriate care in hospitals may have contributed to lowering the rate of fatality from pesticides poisoning. This hospital-based study might have missed out on cases who did not consult the study hospitals.
Similarly, data from one complete year could not be included in the report to show seasonal and monthly variations of pesticides poisoning. This study was only focused on poisoning due to pesticides. So, the result could not be compared with other kinds of poisoning and with suicidal attempts by other methods.
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These may be considered as limitations of this study. Pesticides are intentionally misused as an easy means for committing suicide. The findings indicated that young adults, females and socially disadvantaged ethnic groups like lower caste groups Dalits are at a higher risk of pesticide poisoning.
Self poisoning by using pesticides usually occurs at home and during evening hours. The commonly available insecticides organophosphates and pyrethroids and rodenticides zinc phosphides are the common pesticides that cause poisonings. As this study was limited to hospital settings, a population-based study is needed to reveal the actual problem of pesticide exposure and intoxication.
As the pesticides are misused for committing suicides, there is a need for preventive and mental health programs for the vulnerable groups. Literature review on epidemiological studies linking exposure to pesticides and health effects.
EFSA supporting publication. Knowns and unknowns on burden of disease due to chemicals: a systematic review. Environ Health. Assessment of pesticide exposure in the agricultural population of Costa Rica. Ann Occup Hyg. Pesticide exposure and self reported home hygiene: practices in agricultural families. Workplace Health Saf. Pesticide use pattern among farmers in a rural district of West Bengal, India. J Nat Sci Biol Med. A public health initiative for reducing access to pesticides as a means to committing suicide: findings from a qualitative study.
Int Rev Psychiatry. Gunnell D, Eddleston M. Suicide by intentional ingestion of pesticides: a continuing tragedy in developing countries. Int J Epidemiol. Konradsen F. Acute pesticide poisoning—a global public health problem. Dan Med Bull. Occupational pesticide exposure in early pregnancy associated with sex-specific neurobehavioral deficits in the children at school age. Neurotoxicol Teratol. Pesticide poisoning in the developing world—a minimum pesticides list.
The global distribution of fatal pesticide self-poisoning: systematic review. BMC Public Health.
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Acute poisonings admitted to a tertiary level intensive care unit in northern India: patient profile and outcomes. Eddleston M. Patterns and problems of deliberate self-poisoning in the developing world. Subscribe to eTOC. Advanced Search. Toggle navigation. Subscribe Register Login. Your Name: optional.