Pesticide handling and exposures among cotton farmers in the Gambia

Rex Kuye, Kelley Donham, Shannon Marquez, Wayne Sanderson, Laurence Fuortes, Risto Rautiainen, Martin Jones, Kennith Culp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives: There are substantial health hazards to farmers and the environment associated with pesticide use in developing countries. Based on observations by the authors and previous reports, most previous studies in Africa are descriptive in nature. The aim of this study was to investigate how cotton farmers are exposed to pesticides in The Gambia and quantify their pesticide exposures and provide information for the formulation of a policy on pesticide safety for the country. Methods: A representative sample of 20 cotton farmers in the Central and Upper River Divisions (CRD and URD) of The Gambia were surveyed by questionnaires. Dermal pesticide exposures among a subset of 10 farmer/pesticide applicators were assessed by dermal patch samples, observation, and postapplication questionnaires. Results: The study revealed that a toxic organochlorine insecticide, Callisulfan (endosulfan), is frequently sprayed on cotton plants by the farmers. The farmers wore no protective equipment and were inadequately dressed for work with this pesticide. Laboratory analysis of the mixed formulation showed a wide range in the concentration of the pesticide solution among the farmer/pesticide applicators and dermal patch samples showed very high residues of endosulfan analytes on their body surfaces. Conclusions: A low level of awareness of pesticide toxicity prevails amonsg cotton farmers in The Gambia. There is a less than adequate control of pesticides and other hazardous agrichemicals in the country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-69
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Agromedicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by The University of Iowa’s Center for International Rural and Environmental Health, through the NIH Research Grant #D43 TW0621, funded by the Fogarty International Center, NEIHS, NIOSH, and ATSDR. Support from Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH) and the contributions of Terry Cain and Vicky Reedy of The University of Iowa’s Hygienic Laboratory in the analysis of the samples are appreciated. The authors are also grateful to Burama Mendy, Modou Njai, the farmers, agricultural extension workers, and public health officers in CRD and URD, The Gambia, for their support in the field.


  • Callisulfan
  • Cotton farming
  • Endosulfan
  • Pesticide exposure
  • The Gambia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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