Objectives: To present the data from an integrated program of research and intervention concerning the use of agro-toxic chemicals in a rural region of the municipality of New Friburg , in Río de Janeiro . To apply an integrated, multidisciplinary focus, in evaluation and control of factors contributing to the contamination of rural areas in Brazil by agro-toxic poisons.
Methodology: Case study thatcombines epidemiological techniques, clinical research, biological monitoring, and semi-structured interviews.
Results: The authors estimated that the use of agricultural pesticides and chemical treatments in the southeastern region of Brazil amounted to a proportion of 12 kilograms of agro-toxins per worker per year. In some agricultural areas in the State of Rio de Janeiro such as the region under study, the authors estimated that the proportion amounted to 56 kilograms of agro-toxins per worker per year. Elevated levels of human and environmental contamination were found in this region, due to the extensive use of these chemical agents. Evaluating the impact on human health involved understanding the relative magnitude of each pathway of contamination.
The principal factors responsible for the levels of contamination encountered were: absence of an effective policy to guide technical advice about the use of theseagents and to control their financing; low level of education, impeding peoples ability to understand technical information; advertising practices of firms producing these agents; lack of knowledge about alternative growing techniques; little attention given to disposal of residues and packing materials; and continuing use of and exposure to these products.
The authors recommend that educational campaigns be tailored to the educational and intellectual level of rural workers. Activities targeted to children, and carried out in local schools, would provide a middle-range strategy.
Conclusions: Interrelated factors contributed to the situation observed in the study. Consequently, only an integrated approach to the problem will provide an in-depth understanding of the problems multiple determinants (economic, social, political, biological, individual, and collective).
Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico